Central African Republic
Q. – The French army has been deployed in the Central African Republic for two months, and yet the massacres are continuing. Is the French army overwhelmed?
THE MINISTER – No, certainly not. It was lucky the French army intervened, otherwise there would have been tens of thousands of deaths. It intervened as soon as the United Nations gave it authorization to do so.
We must act on three fronts:
On the security front, things aren’t yet resolved, but there are signs that things are calming down, and the African troops are getting up to speed. European troops are going to join us. So there’s a big job to do, but it’s being done.
There’s the humanitarian aspect, which is tragic, because out of 4.5 million inhabitants two million people are in a serious humanitarian situation.
And there’s also the preparation of the democratic transition. An election will have to be organized. There’s also been some good news: the new interim President, Ms Samba-Panza, is an absolutely outstanding woman.
So we’re still looking at a very difficult situation, but fortunately the Africans, the French, the Europeans and the international community have been playing an active role.
Q. – Are 1,600 French soldiers enough in the Central African Republic today?
THE MINISTER – That’s the figure that has been set. The bulk, in terms of numbers, is made up by the African troops, and the bulk must rest with the African troops.
Q. – Let me rephrase the question to you: no additional French soldiers in the Central African Republic?
THE MINISTER – No, that’s not planned. However, there is the prospect of a peacekeeping operation being established. Probably from the summer onwards, the UN will take over. In the UN’s discussions, the figure of 10,000 soldiers in total has been mentioned. We’d go from 6,000 Africans, 1,600 French and a number of Europeans to 10,000./.