A Member of Parliament representing the Nana-Bakassa District in the Ouham Prefecture of North West Central African Republic (CAR), Roland Achille Bangué-Betangaye, has accused Cameroonian forces serving in his country under the banner of the United Nations Multidimensional Stabilisation Mission of trafficking in minerals, including gold and diamond.
Speaking over CAR national radio last week, the MP said Cameroonian soldiers serving in the country have transformed themselves into business men through the smuggle of food items, gasoil and beer. In turn, he said, they make away with minerals especially gold and diamond.
The Cameroonian military serving in the Nana-Bakassa District, the law maker said, have even opened a drinking spot where people come and refresh themselves. Bangué-Betangaye went further to invite Central Africans to support their government so that they can take over issues of security left in the hands of foreigners.
Responding to this, MINUSCA’s spokesman, Vladimir Montero, speaking over French Television channel, TV5 Monde July 21, said they are taking the allegations seriously and have opened investigations. He added that any soldier who would be found guilty would be severely sanctioned according to the law.
It is believed that since the Bangui-Douala corridor is controlled by Cameroonian forces who usually escort vehicles, refugees and humanitarian workers, and the country relies heavily on Cameroon for supplies and export, these soldiers use this advantage to send in goods while taking away precious metals.
The allegations are coming just a year after some MINUSCA soldiers were sent packing from CAR because of involvement in sexual abuses. However, Cameroonian soldiers were not part of that scandal.
Since war broke out in CAR in late 2012, Cameroon has been one of the main contributors of soldiers to the UN Peace Keeping mission in the country. The former Commander of UN forces in the Central Africa Republic was Cameroonian General Martin Chumow Tumenta who died last November 30, 2015. He was replaced by Senegalese born Lieutenant General Balla Keita.
Presently about 750 Cameroonian soldiers are undergoing training in Douala in preparation to make the Central Africa trip. The Cameroon government is yet to react to these allegations.