Namibia Turns Down Troop Request

The Namibian government has turned down a request by the United Nations to send soldiers to the Central African Republic (CAR), where unrest continues to wreak havoc.

This was confirmed by Defence Minister Nahas Angula yesterday, who explained that the country has no capacity currently to participate in peace enforcement missions – which require the application of military force.

“We have assessed the UN request and came to the conclusion that we do not have capacity to militarily intervene in that conflict,” Angula told New Era.

“Currently we only have the capacity to participate in peacekeeping missions, but not peace enforcement,” the former prime minister said.

Unlike peace enforcement where military force is required, peacekeeping missions consist of military, police and civilian personnel, who work to deliver security, political and early peacebuilding support.

The UN Security Council, the only body authorised to enforce peace enforcement, had requested Namibia in May for soldiers to be sent to CAR.

President Hifikepunye Pohamba, the commander-in-chief of the Namibian Defence Force, has been studying the request – with the help of the country’s top military men.

“We have decided against it and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been tasked to communicate our position to the UN,” Angula said.

Last week alone, at least 45 people were killed and scores wounded in new violence and reprisal attacks in and around Bambari in CAR, according to the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

“The troubles resulted in thousands more people fleeing to displacement sites around the town, which lies some 380 kilometres northeast of the capital Bangui,” the UNHCR said in a statement last Friday.

The violence began early on Monday last week when armed elements attacked a camp just south of Bambari, housing Muslims from the Peul ethnic group. The attack prompted retaliation inside Bambari against other armed elements and the civilian population, local officials say.

UNHCR staff in CAR say that by Wednesday Bambari had been reduced to a ghost city. Christian neighbourhoods have been emptied of residents from previous fighting, while displacement sites are packed with people struggling to get by amid the rainy season.

Namibia’s most prominent military intervention was when former President Sam Nujoma sent troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo, whose president at the time, Laurent Kabila, held onto power by his fingernails because of a rebel onslaught.

Namibia has since been involved in several UN peacekeeping missions in other countries.

During his visit to Namibia last week, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said civil strife – which is often a result of terrorism and military coups – is a result of governments not accommodating the aspirations of their people. He urged the formulation of policies that are inclusive of the entire country.

The UN chief added that when citizens are not happy with government policies, grievances and discontent are the end result, which creates room and breeding ground for terrorism, something he said all governments should guard against.

“We have seen in some countries that people’s aspirations have not been met by leaders, resulting in the unconstitutional overthrow of governments,” he said.

In CAR, violence erupted after predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in the majority-Christian former French colony in March 2013.

Source : New Era