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CAR wants to diversify ‘cordial relationship’ with Russia, says foreign minister

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Picture: EPA-EFE/Michael Klimentyev/Sputnik/Kremlin Pool/Taken May 23, 2018. Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with President of the Central African Republic Faustin-Archange Touadera in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Ahead of a forthcoming Russia-Africa Summit, where the CAR will also take part, Foreign Minister Baipo-Temon says the African nation expects further development and strengthening of bilateral ties.

By Gleb Chugunov

The Central African Republic (CAR) has been experiencing security uncertainty as a number of armed groups and rebels are currently operating on the country’s territory. During his recent visit to Russia’s capital Moscow, the president of CAR’s Economic and Social Council, Alfred Tainga Poloko said that Bangui was counting on Russian military aid.

The Central African Republic wants to diversify its “cordial relationship” with Russia and wants to deepen the co-operation in the military sphere, the Central African Republic’s Foreign Minister Sylvie Baipo-Temon told Sputnik.

“As you know, we already have a cordial relationship today with support in the security field. But we have already expressed since the first [Russia-Africa] forum our will to diversify this co-operation,” he said.

Ahead of a forthcoming Russia-Africa Summit, where the CAR will also take part, Baipo-Temon said that the African nation expects further development and the strengthening of bilateral ties.

“What we expect from this meeting is simply to be able to continue the consolidation of the strengthening of bilateral co-operation between the Central African Republic and Russia,” the diplomat said.

The Russia – Africa Summit is the largest event in bilateral relations aimed at promoting efforts to strengthen comprehensive and equal co-operation between Russia and African countries in the spheres of politics, security, economic relations, science and technology, as well as the cultural and humanitarian fields.

The first such Summit was held in Russia’s Sochi in 2019. The forthcoming summit is to take place in Russian cultural capital, St Petersburg, from July 26 to 29 this year.

In addition, the minister outlined that the two countries already have several points of contact in different spheres and will continue the co-operation.

“We have a number of works on different subjects, judicial subjects, subjects concerning energy, mining and others,” Baipo-Temon said. “So, we will continue to exchange and discuss everything that is in our common interest.”

According to the minister, Russia and Rwanda were the two countries to express willingness to co-operate with CAR after it decided to further boost its bilateral agreements in a bid to get an international support.

“The Central African Republic, in the context of the last elections, decided to boost its bilateral agreements and we have the call for support at the international level that the Central African Republic has made. We had two countries that responded favourably, namely the Russian Federation and the Republic of Rwanda.”

He outlined that to protect the country’s population in “a situation of security instability”, the CAR needs to deepen its ties with Russia.

“We were able to hold these elections in the difficulties we have experienced, and we are still in this phase of restructuring, of rebuilding a professional, republican army and everything we want to establish as an army to respond to its mission, which is the protection of the population and the protection of territorial integrity. And for that, we need to strengthen our co-operation with our partners, and in particular the Russian Federation,” he stressed.

Baipo-Temon stressed that the Central African Republic appreciates Russia’s help. In particular, the minister emphasised the role of Russian instructors, who train CAR’s military personnel, as well as Russia’s weapons deliveries to the African country.

“It must be recognised that in this relationship between the Russian Federation and the Central African Republic, we have also greatly appreciated first of all, this agreement which allowed, within the framework of the embargo, a delivery of weapons to be able to carry out effective training,” he concluded.

According to Russian Ambassador to the CAR Alexander Bikantov, almost 1,900 Russian military instructors are presently working in the Central African Republic. Moreover, the African country has requested that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) increase their number, said the official.

“Today, there are 1,890 Russian instructors in the CAR. The government is interested in increasing their number. Relatively recently, Bangui has duly submitted the relevant request to the UNSC,” Bikantov said in an interview.

The instructors trained the country’s military, police, and gendarmerie, and provided consultations on combating illegal armed groups.

In February this year, Bikantov said that the CAR armed forces, with the assistance of Russian military instructors, have defeated most of the illegal armed groups in the country.

This article was first published on Sputnik