Rwanda sends battalion to CAR

Rwanda said on Wednesday it would send some 800 troops to the Central African Republic (CAR) next week as part of an African Union (AU) force to help restore security.

Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo told local radio: "Our troops will arrive in CAR in about 10 days. AU asked us for a battalion, which is about 800 soldiers."

Rwanda announced last month it would send troops but had not said how many would be dispatched or when.

Mushikiwabo acknowledged the problems in the CAR were "very complex" but stressed that Kigali's stated policy was to "contribute to global peacekeeping".

The troops are being briefed about the terrain and the conflict and the non-French speakers are receiving some language training, the minister said.

The AU force in the CAR is due to be 6 000 strong at full strength, working alongside some 1 600 French troops.

By late December, more than 4 000 troops were already deployed, with 850 Burundians, 800 Cameroonians, 850 from Congo Republic, 850 from the Democratic Republic of Congo, 500 from Gabon, 200 from Equatorial Guinea and 850 Chadians.

Joint operation
European Union nations are considering a joint military operation in CAR to help the African and French troops already deployed, experts said on Wednesday. A decision is expected on January 20.

The CAR spiralled into chaos after a March coup in which the mainly Muslim Seleka rebel group overthrew president François Bozizé.

Rebel leader Michel Djotodia was installed as the first Muslim leader of the majority Christian nation and disbanded the Seleka, but many rebels went rogue, spreading terror which government forces could not stop.


Months of brutal massacres, rapes and looting have followed, with locals forming Christian vigilante groups in response to the atrocities. – (Sapa-AFP)

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