France donates 1,400 AK-47s and 3 amphibious vehicles to Central African Republic

On 11 December, French Defense Minister Florence Parly oversaw the handover at a ceremony at M'Polo military base in the capital Bangui. France donated over 1,400 AK-47 assault rifles and three amphibious vehicles (no model specified) to the Central African Republic. The 1,400 AKs are a gift: they were seized aboard a dhow off Somalia in 2016 that was intercepted for breaching an arms embargo with Yemen.

France donates 1400 AK 47s and 3 amphibious vehicles to Central Africa 2
Central African Armed Forces (FACA) personnel conducting joint patrols with peacekeepers from the UN’s MINUSCA Force in Bangassou, in the Mbomou prefecture in the south-east of the Central African Republic , August 1, 2018 (Picture source: UN)

This military aid was announced in Paris last November, along with €24 million ($27.4 million) in civilian assistance. The UN-backed central government controls only a fraction of the country's territory with its 7,000-men army. The European Union has a military training mission in the Central African Republic that involves 170 people. In July, it pledged 25 million euros to extend the mission until September 2020.

France, the former colonial power, sent 2,000 troops to quell the Seleka rebels, winding down the operation in 2016 after President Faustin-Archange Touadera was elected. It has around 200 troops in the country today, working in support of the armed forces and the UN peacekeeping mission here. Minister Parly said that France was the republic's "major partner for development aid", providing 130 million euros annually.