General Sakama: Russia saves Central African Republic from turmoil

Pravda.Ru special correspondent Daria Aslamova met with General Sakama, a representative of the General Staff of the Central African Republic. During the interview, General Sakama spoke about Russian military instructors training the CAR army, about the assistance that Russia provided to the republic and how the French media slandered the Wagner group.

A string of armed conflicts and crises have been rattling your country since 2013. One of the parties to the settlement of this conflict is Russia. How is your collaboration going now?

Indeed, a large number of military crises have shaken our country with the worst one of them happening on March 24, 2013 when it affected security. During that crisis, the state, the legal system, and the rule of law were completely violated, and our land plunged into chaos. As you can imagine, this caused the country to lose its security system. Accordingly, we had to turn to mobilisation forces that could allow us to restore our state. It was impossible to carry out such work alone. We resorted to  the double-sided scheme. The first scheme was focused on stopping and curbing the conflict. We had to re-establish control over the state. After this stage was completed, we proceeded to the second scheme: we turned to friendly states, including the Russian Federation, seeking assistance in security regulation, which was the cornerstone of the problem for us.

All that led to what you just asked me about - the military cooperation between the Russian Federation and the Central African Republic. For my part, I can say that this cooperation helped us ensure security. We could provide statehood with a national state apparatus, we could also fully or partially restore the country through the provided partnership, including from the Russian side.

Could you now be more specific about the details of cooperation between Russia and the CAR? How many Russian instructors are there? How do they work? How long do they work?

With all due respect to your question, I would like to tell you that I can not answer it to the fullest …

Is is a military secret?

Yes. ... I will not be able to give you all the details as we are talking about security issues after all. Nevertheless, speaking of the work that has been deployed on the territory of our country, this is a lot of work that we carry out daily. We have been able to build a whole chain to provide the level of security that we are striving for. When we talk about cooperation, we are talking about professional work, about professional know-how, about the skills that our military get from Russian instructors. The result that we can see now meets our expectations completely. We have an educational centre in the Berengo area, where educational programs are held to improve the professional level of our military. The services provided are top level. 

You are a professional military man. How do you assess, from a military point of view, the success of the work that the Russian instructors conduct? Maybe there is something to improve, maybe something is missing? What is your professional assessment as a military man?

Thanks again for your question. I would like to return again to the crisis that happened in our country in 2013. You have to imagine that after the events of 2013, the army of the Central African Republic was completely disintegrated. Our first task was to rebuild the armed forces in order to continue to carry out all the necessary work. The joint work that we conduct with Russian instructors includes management of military operations and intervention of Russian military instructors, especially in areas of instability. Training at the initial stage allowed us to collect the armed forces, learn how to use and acquire the necessary equipment and knowledge. Such fraternal countries as Russia help us carry out the necessary operational military activities. When I talk about recovery, I mean that it is a gradual recovery, which is currently in its active stage. When we talk about the level of organization and professional planning, of course, it is these goals that we consider within the framework of military cooperation with Russia. It goes about everything that will let us work effectively to fight for our goals.

Our Russian partners help us train our fighters not only at Berengo camp, but also in different areas of the Central African Republic. Accordingly, this allows us to improve the condition of the armed forces of the Central African Republic from the professional point of view. Next I would like to mention aviation and engineering troops. It's not only a matter of military approach - there are  civilian matters involved. In the future, we consider cooperation in the field of military equipment, and I hope that any progress in this area will be as effective as possible.

As a general, you have seen the military of so many countries. I would like to ask you about the specific character of Russian military instructors. Does it exist at all?

I beg your pardon, but I will only give a roundabout answer to your question, because I am not ready to talk about other armed forces, since they also make their own contribution in resolving armed conflicts on the territory of our country. The situation that is emerging at the level of daily cooperation with Russian instructors indicates that the instructors provide services of highest professional quality. They professionally cope with the mission assigned to them, not only within the framework of military operations on the ground, but also in educational areas that we already discussed. Unfortunately, on our part, I can say that every time we encounter high quality professional training, we increasingly understand the insufficiency of the level of knowledge of our professional military. We hope that the advice and the quality of training provided by Russian instructors will finally help us cope with the task.

The French media have recently reported that the estate of Central African emperor Bokassa, where the Berengo military training centre is located, where Russian military instructors work, was allegedly vandalised, that no one was taking care of Bokassa's grave. How would you comment on this information?

Actually, I won't have any special comment. As for the Bering location, I can only say that this location remains at the disposal of Russian instructors, who successfully work there. The camp has become a high-profile military training centre that produces highly professional soldiers of the army of the Central African Republic. In order to comment on the state of that area, I could probably use the word "rehabilitation". The territory of the camp was in a deplorable state when the Russian instructors arrived. Today, the camp is thriving and life is in full swing there. This is the best comment that you can get, I believe.

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Author`s name Daria Aslamova
Editor Dmitry Sudakov