Archive for Central African Republic
The United States is reopening its embassy in the Central African Republic after a nearly two-year diplomatic absence. In a letter to Congress on Thursday, President Barack Obama said 20 U.S. troops arrived a day earlier to secure the embassy in Bangui. Obama did not give a firm date for the arrival of new diplomatic staff. However, the soldiers are seen as the first step toward reestablishing the mission, which closed in late 2012 amid rebel threats to overthrow the government. The decision comes as the United Nations begins a new peacekeeping mission in the country, where the government struggles to function amid widespread violence following a March 2013 coup.
Around 250 of the 300 Chinese living and working in the Central African Republic have been evacuated since the unrest erupted in the country, Chinese embassy officials in the country said. “Around 250 Chinese nationals have flown back to China or to neighbouring countries, and the rest of them – about 50 – will be leaving today or in the following days,” said Wang Xudong, counselor of the Chinese embassy in the CAR capital Bangui. He added there were around 300 Chinese nationals currently living or working in Bangui, and most had lived there for decades, mainly working for Chinese companies. The embassy will “try its best” to offer support to Chinese nationals and ensure their safety, and extra assistance will also be provided to those who choose to stay, according to Sun Haichao, the ambassador.
As rebels approached the capital of the embattled Central African Republic, the U.S. shuttered its embassy and moved out its ambassador and about 40 diplomats. “This decision is solely due to concerns about the security of our personnel and has no relation to our continuing and long-standing diplomatic relations with the (Central African Republic),” read a statement posted to the embassy’s website. The Seleka rebels seized the city of Sibut about 114 miles from Bangui, the capital, a government official confirmed to The Associated Press. Sibut, a transportation hub, fell to the rebels without a shot fired because the government army had pulled back on Friday.
The United States has temporarily shut down its embassy in the Central African Republic and evacuated the staff, because of a rebel threat to topple the government. A State Department spokesman said Washington is urging all parties to begin peace talks to offer a new vision of security for the country. He said U.S. diplomatic relations with the C.A.R. are not affected. The United Nations already has evacuated non-essential staff from the country because of the threat of violence. Rebel fighters are about 300 kilometers from the capital, Bangui. The C.A.R. won independence from France in 1960. About 250 French troops are in the country as part of a peacekeeping mission. Some in the C.A.R. want France to do more to counter the rebel threat. French President Francois Hollande says France is in the C.A.R. to protect its interests and nationals, not to intervene in the country’s business.
The French government moved to protect its embassy in the Central African Republic after a group of protesters pelted the building with rocks and demanded France intervene to help restore the authority of President François Bozizé. France, the former colonial ruler of the poor, landlocked African country, in which it maintains a contingent of about 250 soldiers, deployed troops to the embassy in Bangui, the capital city. “These troops managed to secure the embassy and restore calm,” French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement. Earlier Wednesday, protesters had held another, more peaceful demonstration in front of the U.S. Embassy in the city, also seeking foreign assistance. The tension in Bangui illustrates the dilemma France faces in many of its former African colonies, more than 50 years after they gained independence: be accused of meddling in African affairs when it intervenes or of failing to prevent chaos when it doesn’t. French officials said Paris would take necessary steps to protect the estimated 1,200 French citizens living in the Central African Republic but had no plan to support Mr. Bozizé’s government. That wasn’t the first time Paris had been involved in the Central African Republic’s internal affairs: In 1979, France toppled the former colony’s self-proclaimed emperor and reinstalled his predecessor.
Let this be a lesson to all diplomatic attachés: Just wait for your gun to be processed at JFK Airport. The Post reports that a “man traveling with the president of the Central African Republic got into a scuffle with a Port Authority cop over a gun.” At 4:15 p.m., “A US Secret Service agent approached a PA cop for help in getting a package containing a gun through screening, and the officer paused to call a supervisor. An attaché, Mario de Gonzalez Bengabo-Gomo, 38, grabbed the package and began walking away… A fight broke out between Bengabo-Gomo and the cop, ending with the cop hospitalized and the attaché, who does not have diplomatic status, facing assault, resisting-arrest and weapons charges.”