AROUND AFRICA: Nelson Mandela, Central African Republic

December 5, 2013 at 11:56 pm Leave a comment

A Great Man’s Passing

Nelson Mandela in 2008 (Photo courtesy of South Africa The Good News / www.sagoodnews.co.za via Wikipedia)

Nelson Mandela in 2008
(Photo courtesy of South Africa The Good News / http://www.sagoodnews.co.za via Wikipedia)

Nelson Mandela, a boxer turned lawyer who fought for freedom and justice in his homeland and became the first black president of South Africa, has died.

Mandela, 95, passed away Thursday (December 5) at home in Johannesburg after years of declining health.

After 27 years in prison for battling the racist apartheid government in South Africa, Mandela was released in 1990, at age 72, following worldwide pressure on the white government in Pretoria. Mandela went on to become South Africa’s first president of color in the country’s first free, multi-racial elections in 1994.

He led the racially-polarized nation to reconciliation after years of brutality and injustice during apartheid. Mandela stepped aside after serving one five-year term, saying it was time for others to lead. It was a seldom-followed example for other African leaders.

Called “the father of his nation” by his many admirers, Mandela was praised by President Barack Obama. Mandela was mourned across Africa and praised by world leaders and ordinary people.

Central African Republic

The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved on Thursday (December 5) the deployment of French and African troops in the Central African Republic, where a coup in March has dissolved into chaos and violence, CNN reports.

Central African Republic (CIA World Factbook)

Central African Republic
(CIA World Factbook)

The Security Council also voted to impose an arms embargo on the CAR, which lies east of Cameroon and north of the Democratic Republic of Congo (see map).

France’s president, Francois Hollande, says a French-led operation to protect civilians in the CAR will be launched immediately following the latest outbreak of sectarian fighting, according to the BBC. Hollande said a contingent of 650 troops will be “doubled within a few days, if not a few hours.” The French troops, under U.N. auspices, will join up with an existing African peacekeeping force.

Hollande said the the French role will be different from the one mounted in Mali, where French and African troops hunted down Islamist militants in the desert. Instead, they will act more like gendarmes, separating violent factions, the BBC reported. The CAR’s prime minister, Nicolas Tiangaye welcomed the move, the BBC said.

Meanwhile, a senior crisis response adviser for the human rights group, Amnesty International, expressed concern about the security situation in the CAR following the clashes between rival armed groups in the capital, Bangui, the Voice of America reported.

An official with the medical relief group, Doctors Without Borders, told the New York Times that at least 50 people have been killed in the fighting, with 100 others wounded. Other reports put the death toll at around 100, the Times reported.

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Entry filed under: Africa, Counter Insurgency, Counter Terrorism, National Security and Defense, News Developments, Peacekeeping. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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