The United States, France and Britain have forced the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to put on hold a Central African Republic (CAR) request for approval for the delivery of a consignment of Chinese-made weapons.
The total ban on supplying arms to the CAR was imposed by the UN to stop the flow of weapons at the height of the civil war in 2013.
The three countries vetoed a request by CAR Defence Minister Marie Noelle Koyara for a UNSC exemption from the embargo of a Chinese donation of 12 armoured personnel carriers, 4 anti-aircraft guns, 50 pistols, 6 sniper rifles, 10 sub-machine guns (with silencers) and 30 other machineguns of various calibres, Agence France Presse reports.
The shipment also includes 15 000 teargas grenades, 725 000 rounds of assorted ammunition, 300 rockets and 500 anti-tank grenades. The proposal said the equipment would be supplied by Poly Technologies, a Chinese State-owned global arms dealer with a trading footprint across Africa.
In her proposal to the UNSC, CAR defence minister Marie Noelle Koyara said the national defence force needs the weapons to equip army and police force units recently trained by the UN and the Rwandan Defence Force (RDF).
The forces were certified by the local EU training mission in the CAR. Koyara said the equipment would enable security forces and peacekeepers to confront rising threats to civil disorder and the re-emergence of armed groups.
In its objection, the US questioned the need for anti-aircraft weapons, noting that the CAR does not face any threat of an aerial attack. France said it needed additional justifications for the inclusion of lethal equipment like anti-aircraft weapons, in the exemption request.
The government of the CAR has not commented on the denial of the arms request. The war-torn country sought an exemption order similar to the one granted in December 2017 to legalise a Russian delivery of light arms for use by two army battalions trained by the UN and EU forces.
The Russian weapons included 5 200 assault rifles, 840 AK-47 machine guns, 270 rocket-propelled grenades, 900 pistols, 140 sniper rifles and 20 anti-aircraft guns.