France donates weapons, vehicles to Central African Republic


France has donated three amphibious vehicles and 1 400 AK-47 assault rifles to the Central African Republic (CAR) in an effort to strengthen the country’s military.

The equipment was handed over on 11 December by French Defence Minister Florence Parly at the M’Polo military base in the capital Bangui, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported.

The AK-47s were gifted to the Central African Republic after being seized aboard a dhow off Somalia in 2016 that was intercepted for breaching an arms embargo with Yemen.

An exemption to the 2013 UN Security Council arms embargo was made for the weapons to be delivered. Another exemption was earlier made in 2017 for Russia to supply 1 700 AK-47s to the Central African Republic’s military. However, in June France, Britain, and the United States blocked a request from the CAR for approval of Chinese weapons deliveries, AFP reported.

European nations are training the CAR’s military through a European Union training mission comprising 170 personnel. In July, 25 million euros was pledged to keep the mission running until September 2020. Russia has also sent 170 military personnel to the CAR.

France retains 200 soldiers in the CAR to support the 7 000-strong Central African Republic military, after winding down a 2 000-strong deployment to combat Seleka rebels in 2016.