PARIS (Dispatches) - France says it will withhold military cooperation and domestic aid to the Central African Republic, pending further assessments, as the Bangui government has been involved in a “massive disinformation campaign” with Russia.
The French military ministry announced on Tuesday that the government had cut budget support for its former colony “until further notice” by EUR 10 million ($ 12.18 million).
“The Central African authorities have made commitments on several occasions that they have failed to meet, both politically to the opposition and in relation to their conduct towards France, which is the target of a massive disinformation campaign,” an unnamed ministry official said.
The official accused Russia of being responsible for the “disinformation campaign” and said “Central Africans are, at best, complicit in this campaign”.
Facebook suspended nearly 500 accounts ahead of the December elections on allegations that competing French and Russian disinformation campaigns attempted to deceive and influence internet users in the African nation.
French ambassador to the Central African Republic, Jean Marc Grosgurin, said a recent campaign claimed France was planning to move its embassy to Cameroon’s capital, Yaounde.
France has around 300 soldiers in the Central African Republic, including soldiers who work for a UN peacekeeping mission and a European Union training mission.
The international missions remain untouched, however, as a 12,500-strong UN peacekeeping force remains in the country.