Gabon’s defense ministry announced recently that the United Nations (UN) would withdraw Gabon’s 450-strong peacekeeping contingent from the Central African Republic over sexual abuse allegations.
“In recent weeks, exceptionally serious acts that go against military ethics and the honor of the armed forces, committed by certain elements in the Gabonese battalions… have been reported,” the ministry said in a statement.
In addition to many cases of alleged sexual exploitation and abuse that are being processed, the United Nations has decided to withdraw the Gabonese contingent from MINUSCA meanwhile, Gabon has launched an investigation.
The Central African Republic, which has been established as one of the world’s poorest countries, has witnessed instability since 1960 when it gained independence from France.
The former French colony is presently suffering from the consequences of a brutal civil conflict that broke out in 2013 following a coup against then-president Francois Bozize.
In April 2014, MINUSCA was deployed by the UN to help put an end to the conflict between the Seleka coalition of armed groups that overthrew Bozize and the militias supporting him.
Even though the conflict has significantly reduced in intensity, the MINUSCA still has 15,000 personnel within the country, amongst whom 14,000 are in uniform whose objective is to provide security and protect civilians.