France hails success of transition in Central African Republic
Central African Republic – Statement by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, following his meeting with the President of the Central African Republic (excerpts)
Paris, 20 April 2016
Ladies and gentlemen,
I hosted a meeting with the President of the Central African Republic, Mr Touadera. It provided an opportunity for us to congratulate him once again on the presidential election from which he emerged the victor, which was a transparent, indisputable election and showed that in Africa it’s possible – even after an especially turbulent period – to succeed in organizing a ballot that doesn’t create unrest but, on the contrary, allows people to come together.
The ballot sets an example because, I remind you, the Central African Republic was in a near-chaos situation in December 2013. There were massacres, there were crimes, there were inter-religious conflicts. France had to shoulder its responsibilities – that’s what I decided with our African friends, with the United Nations’ support – to ensure we could end the fratricidal fighting, the armed groups that were engaging in the worst acts of violence, and ensure there could be a transition. (…)
I note that, just over two years later, it’s been possible to organize a presidential election and a general election, with all the standards of a democracy. (…)
To everyone who still wonders about external interventions, particularly in Africa and especially in the Central African Republic, we showed this one was different from all the others. It enabled us to get the results I’ve just welcomed.
However, a lot still remains to be done, as President Touadera told me: a lot to be done in terms of security, of disarming a number of groups – all the groups, moreover, which must be disarmed. That’s why Sangaris no longer has any raison d’être at the level we’ve seen since the beginning of the operation. Let me remind you that 2,000 soldiers were present in the Central African Republic at one point. Sangaris will remain in the Central African Republic, I assure you. We’ll make sure that, to help the Central African forces, the essential support exists and our soldiers are present, within a European mission, to support you in the task of managing and training the Central African army, which is essential in order to guarantee security.
And then there’s economic development. Here too, France will be present at your side, with its budget assistance, with the French Development Agency’s projects and with Europe. I want to pay tribute to Europe; here again, its role isn’t emphasized enough. (…)
I’d like to conclude by saying that I also of course talked about the scandals which have hit MINUSCA and French army units. The matter has been referred to the courts and nothing will be left hidden or covered up. Transparency and the truth will have to be established, including for the sake of the French army’s honour. If groundless accusations have been made, we will have to know this too. But if cases are proven, there will be no impunity from French justice. I can assure you of that.
But going beyond those cases – which had to be discussed and were, on my initiative –, I believe we must pay tribute to success: the success of the operation, the success of the Central African Republic, which can justifiably – despite all its woes, despite all its difficulties – be proud of this process, which has led to your election and your being here today, Mr President./.