Central African Republic’s Armed Forces (FACA) received more than 120 vehicles from both China and the United States as part of international efforts to boost the country’s military capacity.
At a ceremony on Wednesday, August 8, President Faustin Archange Touadera received vehicles donated by China’s Poly Technologies group to the Ministry of Defense, the presidency said in a Facebook post.
According to the presidency, the company’s Deputy Director for Europe and Africa Guo Shaowu said the delivery of the vehicles is part of an effort to support CAR at a time when the country is investing in research and peacebuilding.
According to VOA, Poly Technologies undertook oil exploration in northern CAR between 2007 and 2017.
Defense Minister Marie Noëlle Koyara said the donation, which is valued at more than $15 million, consists in part of “more than 70 vehicles,” including troop transport vehicles, pick-ups, engineering tractors, bulldozers, graders, high-performance boats, ambulances, and a large quantity of spare parts, according to the post.
The presidency said that Central African Republic is “entering a period of peacemaking and national reconstruction” and that “China’s support through Poly Technologies is important for the Central African Army.”
In June, France, the United States and the United Kingdom put a hold on a request from Central African Republic for United Nations Security Council approval of weapons shipments from China.
The council imposed an arms embargo on Central African Republic in 2013 when the country descended into bloodshed but its sanctions committee last year allowed Russia to supply weapons to the country’s forces. The Security Council in January unanimously extended its sanctions against CAR until January 31, 2019.
Koyara’s request for an exemption for Chinese equipment for CAR’s military from Poly Technologies was backed by the European Union military training mission and by the U.N. peacekeeping operation Minusca, which has come under repeated attacks from armed groups.
There are exemptions to the arms embargo for supplies of non-lethal military equipment intended solely for humanitarian or protective use, and related technical assistance (including operational and non-operational training to the CAR security forces) with prior approval from the Security Council committee.
The request included 12 armored vehicles and four assault vehicles, but it also included pistols, sniper rifles, submachine guns with silencers, machine guns including anti-aircraft machine guns, grenade launchers, rockets, anti-tank grenades, 725,000 rounds of ammunition of various types and 15,000 tear gas grenades.
It is unclear whether the vehicles delivered by China were part of this exemption request.
US donates military vehicles to CAR
Meanwhile, on August 6, the U.S. handed over the keys for 48 vehicles out of a planned 57, a donation the Embassy in Bangui said was aimed at improving the logistics capabilities of CAR’s armed forces. The $8.5 million project includes vehicles, spare parts and radios, as well as driver and mechanic training. The delivery of nine additional tanker trucks will complete the agreement.
RJDH reported that the shipment included 42 Toyota Hilux pickup trucks equipped with communications equipment and six Renault trucks.
“We recognize that peace and stability are essential to the prosperity of the Central African Republic in the short and long term. The United States and the CAR all have an interest in supporting prosperity and security in the region,” RJDH reported U.S. Chargé d’Affaires David Brownstein as saying.
“The provision of this training and equipment to FACA is part of the U.S. Government support to the Central African people by providing the CAR army with the means to protect the inhabitants of the country and its borders,” the Embassy said.
Minister Koyara said the U.S. support builds on its “promises to continue to support the government and reaffirms the willingness of this country to work with the authorities for the reconstruction of the Central African army.”