France has suspended aid and military support to the Central African Republic, accusing its government of failing to stop a massive anti-French “disinformation campaign”. The armed forces ministry said that the French government is also freezing about 10 million euros in budgetary support for the landlocked African nation.
“A number of commitments made by the Central African authorities vis-à-vis France have not been kept,” the ministry told news agency Reuters, which includes stopping the online campaigns meant to undermine French influence.
France has a history of military interventions in the Central African Republic, a former French colony, and diplomatic wrangling over influence in the mineral-rich nation has heightened the tension. French influence has been undermined by Russia after Moscow sent hundreds of military instructors to help arm and train CAR’s government troops to fight rebels.
In the past, the Central African Republic has faced deadly interreligious and inter-communal violence. A peace deal in 2019 failed to curb the violence after the constitutional court rejected former CAR president Francois Bozize’s effort to run for president again last year.
President Faustin Archange Touadera won re-election in December 2020 but continues to face opposition from rebel groups linked to Bozize. In January, the rebel forces tried to attack the capital city Bangui, underscoring the serious threat faced by CAR’s military.
Around 160 French troops were providing operational support in Bangui and training Central African forces to support the government on the security front. While the international missions, including a European Union training deployment, will continue, soldiers working directly for the French military will no longer cooperate with the Central African Republic’s military. The decision to freeze aid and military cooperation will impact France’s operational support in the capital Bangui and training Central African forces.
(With inputs from agencies)