SouthAfrica.info (Johannesburg)

7 January 2013

Central African Republic: South African Troops for Central African Republic

President Jacob Zuma has authorised the deployment of 400 South African National Defence Force (SANDF) soldiers to the Central African Republic (CAR), his office said on Sunday.

The deployment to the civil war-torn country is part of South Africa's efforts to bring about peace and stability in the region. The deployment will end on 31 March.

"The employed members of the SANDF will assist with capacity building of the CAR Defence Force and will also assist CAR with the planning and implementation of the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration processes," the Presidency said in a statement.

On 31 December, Zuma sent Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to the Central African Republic to assess the situation, which remains tense after the Seleka rebel coalition launched an armed campaign on 10 December.

The rebels, who accuse President Francois Bozize of reneging on the 2008 Libreville Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed by the government and the country's three main rebel groups, and of cracking down on dissidents, have taken 10 northern and central towns in their advance on the capital, Bangui.

The South African government has urged all parties to immediately cease hostilities, withdraw from the captured cities and cease any further advances towards Bangui.

As a member of the African Union, South Africa said it rejected any attempt to seize power by force, and therefore supported sanctions and other measures against the perpetrators of any unconstitutional change of government.

"We call on all parties to seek a peaceful solution by engaging constructively in political dialogue," the Department of International relations said in a statement last week. "We welcome the reaffirmation by CAR President Francois Bozize to work towards a negotiated solution to the current crisis."  SANews.gov.za-Xinhua

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