Central African Republic: How Russia Saved CAR From Plunging into War

An official processes voter ID cards ahead of the general elections in the Central African Republic.
opinion

Bangui — From dispatching hundreds of military personnel to delivering humanitarian aid in recent years, Russia's role in assisting the Central African Republic (CAR) hold elections and avert catastrophe cannot be overestimated.

Russia's dispatching of hundreds of military instructors to help repel a takeover by rebels at a major town on the eve of elections is the latest in a series of interventions.

The Central African country is emerging from milestone general polls, held on December 27, as the incumbent Faustin-Archange Touadera retained the presidency.

He has secured a second term after winning an absolute majority 53,92 percent of the presidential poll, according to the results announced by the
President of the National Election Authority (ANE), Mathias Morouba, on Monday.

The holding of polls whose outcome has widely been endorsed has been hailed as a victory for the Central Africans, with the elections held against the backdrop of terror by armed groups opposed to the holding of the exercise.

Rebel groups aligned to the beleaguered former president, François Bozizé, ran amok on the eve of elections in opposition of his disqualification by the Constitutional Court.

The militants seized Bambari, CAR fourth-largest city, five days before nationwide elections. The market town is some 380 kilometres northeast of Bangui, the capital city the rebels threatened to march to in a bid to overthrow the government.

Bambari is back under the control of the United Nations peacekeepers and national security forces.

This is largely thanks to the Russian government, which immediately dispatched an additional 300 instructors and some combat helicopters to help the CAR government repel the rebels' takeover and protect civilians on the eve of the elections.

With some measure of stability restored, voter turnout among registered voters was 76,3 percent as 910 784 voters participated.

Russian instructors had been present in the Central African country for the third year, including 2019 when Touadera's government sealed a peace deal with armed groups, to pave way for the recently-held polls.

In a field where the international community, including the UN, failed, Russia succeeded in that its representatives acted as intermediaries in the negotiations with the rebels.

Securing the peace deal against all odds raised Touadera's profile and placed him as favourite to win the poll.

Ties between CAR and Russia have been solid during the period of the African country's quest for peace.

Russian specialists trained the CAR's army and the gendarmerie. This is part of an agreement by Russia in 2018 to provide free military aid to the CAR.

Initially, it sent 175 instructors to train the Central African Armed Forces.

The Eurasian country also delivered substantial humanitarian aid to CAR, the country of some 4,8 million people that has suffered recurrent strife since rebels overthrew Bozize in 2013.

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