France and Central African Republic
France is the only European country with an embassy in Bangui (where the EU also has a delegation). On the strength of its long-standing, intense relationship with the Central African Republic, France continues to support the country and its elected authorities in their efforts to stabilize and develop sustainably.
Multilaterally, France fully supports the action of ECCAS and the African Union and acts in the framework of the United Nations Security Council which has adopted ten resolutions concerning the Central African Republic: 2121, 2127, 2134, 2149, 2181, 2196, 2217, 2262, 2281 and 2301. Within the EU and alongside Germany, the Netherlands and the European Commission, France initiated the first European emergency and development trust fund, “Bêkou” (“hope” in Sango), which has proved its ability to address needs quickly and efficiently. This fund has enabled the rapid adoption and implementation of first projects in the sectors of health care, food security, urban infrastructure and economic and social stimulus. It currently provides €136 million.
Lastly, France supports the Central African Republic vis-à-vis international financial institutions (obtaining the completion point of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative in 2009, and an IMF Extended Credit Facility, Peacebuilding Commission, etc.).
At bilateral level, France has granted more than €76.9 million in civilian assistance to the Central African Republic since January 2014, in addition to military spending (Sangaris and bilateral support to EU, EUFOR and EUMAM operations, as well as the African Union – MISCA – and UN – MINUSCA). Since January 2014, France has thus provided more than €21 million in humanitarian assistance, more than €3.9 million in support for the electoral process (including €3.1 million via the UN common election fund), more than €27 million in crisis exit support (including budget assistance; support for security system reform; disarmament, demobilisation, repatriation and reintegration (DDRR programmes); reconciliation and justice), and more than €24 million of assistance via the Agence Française de Développement (AFD, French Development Agency), including €15 million of contributions to the European “Bêkou” fund. Particular emphasis has been placed upon aspects of democratic governance via capacity building for the Central African Republic’s State in key sectors, such as interministerial coordination, territorial administration, the economy, finance and justice.
During the donor conference in Brussels on 17 November 2016, France announced a contribution of €85 million over 3 years, including €15 million for the “Bêkou” fund. This announcement confirmed its position as the leading bilateral donor. France will focus its assistance on support for governance, combating vulnerabilities, and targeted support for services to populations, including education and health. It will also contribute to capacity building efforts for coordination and the implementation of assistance by the Central African Republic’s government.
In order to protect civilians from the cycle of very serious violence, France deployed Operation Sangaris from 5 December 2013, supporting the African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA). In response to a request from the Central African Republic’s transition authorities, the French operation (which involved 2,000 troops at the height of the action) was carried out under a mandate conferred by UN Security Council resolution 2127.
Four French soldiers were killed in operations.
Sangaris ended officially on 31 October 2016, but French soldiers are participating in the EU Training Mission (EUTM) and are present within the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).
The frequency of bilateral visits reflects the intensity of relations between France and the Central African Republic:
The President of the French Republic visited Bangui on 10 December 2013, following the launch of Operation Sangaris, and again on 28 February 2014. Mr Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs, visited on 13 October 2013 along with Ms Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response. He returned on 23 January 2014 for the swearing in of Catherine Samba-Panza, interim President of the Central African Republic. Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Minister of Defence, has visited the Central African Republic on five occasions (13 December 2013, 2 January 2014, 12 February 2014, 18 May 2014, and 7 July 2014). Ms Annick Girardin, Minister of State for Development and Francophonie, visited Bangui on 30 and 31 October 2015.
On 30 March 2016, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Mr Jean-Marc Ayrault, represented the President of the French Republic at the swearing-in ceremony of Faustin-Archange Touadéra, accompanied by the Minister of Defence, Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian. President Touadéra, who had made a private visit to France from 8-15 March before his inauguration, returned on 19-20 April for a working visit.
Mr André Vallini, Minister of State for Development and Francophonie, visited Bangui from 28-30 June 2016. In addition to bilateral meetings, including with President Touadéra, Mr Vallini took part in international meetings to prepare the donors conference planned to take place in Brussels that autumn, including a “Bêkou” workshop dedicated to the prospects for the EU trust fund. His successor, Mr Jean-Marie Le Guen, himself visited the Central African Republic in December 2016, in his first visit to Africa.
Commercial relations between France and the Central African Republic suffered from the crisis.
Trade (US $50 million) is limited and there are few French companies, but France remains the leading investor in the country. Despite the crisis, Air France, Bolloré (logistics and river freight), Castel (drinks and sugar) and Total (storage and distribution of petroleum products) maintained their establishments in the Central African Republic. Looting following the seizure of Bangui by rebels on 24 March 2013 however caused major disruption to the activities of French companies, which have since been seeking to restore normal operations.
Updated: 8 February 2017