/ 6 January 2013

SA to send 400 troops to Central African Republic

As rebels move towards Bangui
As rebels move towards Bangui

On Sunday a statement was issued saying the soldiers would go to the country "to render support in fulfilment of an international obligation of the Republic of South Africa towards the [country]".

The statement said the SANDF troops' employment period would be between January 2 2013 and March 31 2018.

"The employed members of the SANDF will assist with capacity building of the [Central African Republic] Defence Force and will also assist CAR with the planning and implementation of the disarmament, demobilisation and re integration processes," the statement added.

"The employment of members of the SANDF to [country] is one of the efforts that South Africa is making to bring about peace and stability in the region."

Meanwhile, Agence France-Presse reported on Sunday a military source said at least 200 South African soldiers have already arrived in the capital of the Central African Republic, Bangui, to try to secure it from advancing rebels.

"This well-equipped South African contingent arrived in the middle of the week … its mission is to secure the Central African capital," the source said.

The troops, based not far from the neighbourhood housing the residence of President Francois Bozize, "joins in Central Africa a South African military contingent already deployed as part of military cooperation", the source added.

After the South African troops arrived, the coordinator of the Citizens Coalition Opposed to the Armed Rebels, Levy Yakite, appealed Sunday on national radio for his movement to lift the roadblocks set up to prevent any rebel infiltration attempts.

With the Seleka rebel coalition threatening to march on Bangui, Gabon, Congo-Brazzaville and Cameroon in recent days each sent 120 troops, according to a source with the multinational African peacekeeping force FOMAC.

They will join 400 Chadian soldiers already deployed to protect the key town of Damara, the source said. – Additional reporting by AFP