European Union
European Union

The European Union approved two new missions to the African continent on Monday, giving the final go-ahead for a police training mission to Mali and agreeing to establish a military reform operation for the Central African Republic (CAR).

EU
EU

The bloc is already active in both countries, which have suffered recent conflicts. In Mali, a 2012 military coup was followed by an Islamist insurgency, while CAR has sought to contain clashes between its Muslim and Christian communities.

The Mali mission will train and advise police forces, to help the state “ensure constitutional and democratic order, put in place the conditions for lasting peace as well as maintain its authority throughout the entire territory,” a statement said.

“It will work with Mali’s three law enforcement branches, the police, the gendarmerie and the garde nationale,” it said.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the operation “will help bring a long-term solution to Mali’s security challenges.”

The Bamako-based mission, which was initially agreed by EU defence ministers in April, is to last until mid-January 2017. Preparations have been underway for several months, and a budget of 11.4 million euros (13.2 million dollars) has been allocated for the first year.

The EU is already conducting a military training mission in Mali. The bloc is also active in neighbouring Niger, helping the authorities fight organized crime and terrorism.

The bloc’s foreign ministers, meeting in Brussels on Monday, also approved a new mission to CAR, aiming to help strengthen the country’s security sector. A separate decision will be necessary for the final launch of the operation.

“EUMAM will advise on the reforms necessary to make CAR armed forces a more multi-ethnic, professional and republican army,” Mogherini said, using the codename for the mission.

EU experts will offer advice on training the army, while the 12-month mission, led by French Brigadier General Dominique Laugel, could also “conduct limited non-operational training,” a statement said.

It is to comprise up to 60 staff, and has an estimated initial 12-month budget of 7.9 million euros.

The EU dispatched soldiers to CAR last year, to help maintain the peace alongside UN, African Union and French forces.

The foreign ministers also turned their attention to the recent upsurge of violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where dozens of armed groups have been fighting for control over the region’s rich natural resources.

One of these groups, the armed Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, has failed to respect an internationally agreed January 2 deadline to surrender and demobilize, making a United Nations intervention more likely.

“The moment has come to start military action,” EU foreign ministers said in a joint statement, echoing recent UN Security Council support for the mission.

Preparations are already underway for a joint military operation between the Congolese army and the UN peacekeeping mission in the country.

The ministers condemned ongoing human rights violations in the country, stressing that “gender-based violence and the recruitment and use of child soldiers, whether conducted by armed groups or other actors, are absolutely unacceptable and must end.”
GNA

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