On 19 September, the US Department of State’s Acting Deputy Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, tweeted “Pleased to discuss shared objectives with President Touadéra at #UNGA78. We remain committed to helping the Central African people achieve the peace and prosperity they deserve.”
On the eve of the General Debate — on Monday, 18 September — President Touadéra and the US Department of State’s Acting Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland had a bilateral meeting on the margins, a State Department spokesperson told PREMIUM TIMES.
“Under Secretary Nuland and President Touadéra discussed ways that we can strengthen our bilateral relations, and help the Central African people achieve peace and prosperity” and “We sought to gain an understanding from President Touadéra on ways that we can strengthen the bilateral relationship between our two countries,” the official said.
CAR has been a regular feature of the UN Security Council’s briefings and consultations on the security situation, including on 27 July for a Vote on the Extension of the Sanctions Regime in which the “Security Council adopted resolution 2693 extending the sanctions measures on the Central African Republic (CAR) until 31 July 2024 and the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee until 31 August 2024 with 13 votes in favour and two abstentions (China and Russia),” according to UN Security Council reports.
The country has been widely reported in relation to the Russian private military company, the Wagner Group, including by the Congressional Research Service in its 3 August report for the US Congress. The report affirmed the widely held belief that “Wagner’s future in Africa is uncertain in the wake of its June 2023 mutiny in Russia,” although “Wagner is primarily active in the Central African Republic (CAR).”
From his perspective, CAR’s President Touadéra voiced his sentiments and “decried the disinformation and smear campaigns waged by certain Western media against the CAR,” in his 78th UN General Assembly Debate speech, as translated by UN Affairs.
“The United States continues to support the professionalization of CAR’s armed forces through International Military Education and Training, and the Department of State supports CAR’s law enforcement and judicial sectors in the amount of approximately $3.5 million dollars per year, which contributes to our shared objectives of promoting access to justice,” a State Department spokesperson told PREMIUM TIMES.
Previously on 22 August, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller issued a statement about CAR’s Constitutional Referendum which “validated the results of the July 30 constitutional referendum, which, among other changes, removes presidential term limits, and undercuts the country’s democratic governance. We believe that regular peaceful transitions of power yield strong institutions and more stable and prosperous countries.”
He added, “The United States notes with deep reservations reports of low voter participation and concerns over secrecy of the ballot. Free and fair elections, with inclusive electoral processes are essential for any democracy” and called for the CAR “to make announce a date for local elections in which all Central Africans can express their views at the ballot box.”
In his UNGA speech last Thursday, President Touadéra accused Western countries of being one of the reasons for African migration to Europe. “This escalation of the migrant crisis is one of the appalling consequences of the plundering of natural resources of countries made poor by slavery, colonization and Western imperialism, terrorism and internal armed conflicts,” said President Touadéra in his 21 September UN General Assembly Debate.
His rebuke did not end there. On the African migrants on the island of Lampedusa, Italy, he said, “These young people who represent the present and the future of our continent, Africa, are desperately seeking to join the countries of the European continent, in search of an El Dorado.”
He highlighted the impact of migration on the CAR; having registered 51,000 new migrants from Chad and Sudan, since the internal war started there. He said, “our certainly resilient populations to risks of worsening of the still deleterious humanitarian situation and insecurity.”
President Touadéra asked member countries “for consideration of the impact of this crisis on regional geopolitics as well as international solidarity in favour of refugees.”
In his UNGA address, President Touadéra posed the question: “certain States, from the height of their political, economic and military power, permanently agitate for coercive diplomacy or use international financial institutions for the purpose of imposing economic, financial and commercial blockades against countries made poor by slavery, colonization and imperialism?”
His accusation of these “certain States” was interpreted from his speech delivered in French, in which President Touadéra called for the UN Security Council to “put an end to these artifices which aim to mask the desire to perpetuate insecurity and the control over the country’s natural resources for the benefit of foreign powers, consecrate the legitimization of armed groups and grant them the status of subject of international law,” according to the translation confirmed by UN Affairs.
In July, the people of the Central African Republic learned to their great distress of the renewal of an arms embargo which was brought about by trumped-up reports, he said.
This “cynical decision” betrays the unspoken intention of the members of the security council, the CAR president said. “Arms embargoes and diamond embargoes happen in parallel with the suspension of budgetary and economic support.”
“Both of these factors are real obstacles for my country’s achievement of the realization of the 2030 Agenda,” he said, also adding: “Here we repudiate this denial of our right to self-determination and permanent sovereignty over our wealth and natural resources.”
These trumped-up mechanisms are a “thinly veiled” desire to allow insecurity to reign and to continue a stranglehold over that country’s natural resources for the benefit of foreign powers.
On Tuesday, 13 September, the week prior to arriving in New York for the 78th UNGA, France’s President Emmanuel Macron met and hosted President Touadéra at his official residence, the Elysée Palace – a positive diplomatic effort for two countries with an uneasy and complicated relationship – an attempt to renew their bilateral relationship. According to an official communique, by the French Presidency’s Elysée Palace, “The President of the Republic met with the President of the Central African Republic, Faustin Archange Touadéra, this Wednesday, September 13, 2023, at the Elysée Palace. They discussed the internal situation in the Central African Republic, the state of our bilateral relationship but also the ongoing transition in Gabon.”
Pearl Matibe is a Washington, DC-based White House Correspondent, and media commentator with expertise in U.S. foreign policy and international security. You may follow her on Twitter: @PearlMatibe
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