The President of the Central African Republic (CAR), Catherine Samba-Panza, has extended a vote of confidence to Rwandan Peacekeepers deployed in her country.
Speaking in the capital Bangui, shortly after the arrival of Rwandan police officers, President Samba-Panza described the Rwandan Defence Forces (RDF) and Police peacekeepers deployed in her country as highly professional.
The RDF are in charge of Samba-Panza’s personal security among other responsibilities.
“One must have a high level of trust to put their life in the hands of another army. If the relations between the two countries were shaky, I would not have chosen Rwanda to be in charge of my personal security,” she said.
“The Rwandan contingent has stood by my side since January. They are a highly professional force and strictly observe security rules. They are courteous and respectful; all of which are important elements when one has to rely on another army to ensure their security,” she added.
Both Rwanda and the CAR are members of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region and of the Economic Community of Central African States and are committed to strengthening ties, she says.
“To strengthen these relations further, I appointed a consul of the Central African Republic to Rwanda a few months ago,” the President said, pointing out to the significant presence of Rwandan troops in CAR as a manifestation of strong ties between the two countries.
She added: “No one has ever protested against their presence in the areas where they are deployed. I am very pleased with the discipline.”
CAR has been plagued by instability in the recent past. The Rwanda troops under MISCA, which will soon become MINUSCA, have been effective in supporting her government’s efforts to restore peace and stability in the country.
“Our priority was to restore order and rule of law and this can only be guaranteed by law enforcement institutions, the Police. The first troops on the ground had a very specific mission as part of the MISCA and the African Union,” President Samba-Panza added.
As per the UN plan, Police and Military forces under the UN multI-dimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in CAR are supposed to deploy effective September 15.
The Rwanda National Police, early last week, started the deployment of its contingent of 140 officers under the Rwanda Formed Police unit.
“I believed it was very important to strengthen the troops who are part of the peacekeeping mission with police officers. I am glad Rwanda understood our needs and has strengthened its contingent by contributing members of the police,” the President said.
She called on the Rwanda Police officers to offer ground support as well as help build the capacity of the CAR police and Gendarmerie.
“Crime is on the rise and we have several people who have refused to abide by basic rules of security. We really need reinforcement to focus on building the capacity of our police officers and to support them on the ground.”
Between the time the United Nations decided to deploy peacekeepers (in April) and September, the CAR has had a lot of security threats, the number of factions and armed groups has increased and various political factions are jostling for positions to secure their place before the arrival of the peacekeepers on September 15.
“Many of them know that it will be difficult to undertake certain actions after September 15. In the past two weeks, we have witnessed a resurgence of violence, banditry and robbery. People have their eyes fixed on September 15,” she observed.
President Samba-Panza said she was delighted that the Rwandan Police contingent had arrived before time to prepare the ground and counteract certain criminal acts that would occur before September 15.
“I am really grateful that Rwanda anticipated these needs and is acting in a preventive way.”