Africa

Zuma to attend CAR meeting to discuss security

Sapa

President Jacob Zuma and International Relations Minister Maite Nkoane-Mashabane will attend a meeting about the Central African Republic.

"[The president] will undertake a working visit to the Demo to attend the contact group meeting on the Central African Republic (CAR), scheduled for May 3," said Clayson Monyela, spokesperson for the international relations department, in a statement.

The political and security situation in CAR would be discussed at the meeting. "At the last [gathering, delegates] and the government of CAR decided that…[it] would convene a meeting in Congo ... to further determine the way forward to restoring stability, security, respect for human rights and democracy in CAR."

On Sunday, Zuma said the country's foreign policy regarding the embattled CAR remained unchanged. He said South Africa recognised the CAR's transitional government, based on the January 2013 agreement ceasefire signed in Libreville, Gabon.

Thirteen South African soldiers were killed and 27 wounded on March 23 when they were attacked by Seleka rebel fighters near the CAR capital of Bangui. CAR president Francois Bozize was ousted by the rebels.

In December, Zuma sent Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to CAR to assess the security environment and general situation which became tense after the Seleka rebel coalition launched an armed campaign. The report from that mission recommended an intervention.

On January 2, Zuma authorised the deployment of up to 400 South African soldiers to CAR, but only 200 were sent. Zuma said South Africa and CAR had signed a military co-operation agreement in 2007.

This was renewed for a further five-years in December 2012. That agreement entailed provision of military training to the CAR army and refurbishment of military infrastructure. – Sapa

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