24 February 2016

South Africa: Zuma to Pull SA Troops Out of Sudan

Photo: SA Presidency
President Zuma of South Africa and Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir

President Jacob Zuma will pull SA National Defence Force soldiers out of Darfur, Sudan, from April 1, the Presidency said on Wednesday.

"President Jacob Zuma has terminated the employment of members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in Darfur, Sudan," Presidency spokesperson Bongani Majola said in a statement.

"Members of the SANDF were employed in Darfur in 2008 as part of the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID)."

Zuma thanked all SANDF members who had participated in "bringing peace" to Darfur.

Last year, when Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was in the country attending an African Union summit, there were reports that SANDF troops in Sudan had been "held hostage" during a court bid to have him arrested.

However, the SANDF denied this at the time.

It was reacting to a report by Netwerk24, quoting unnamed South African soldiers in Sudan, that heavily armed Sudanese soldiers had surrounded military bases in Kutum, Mellit and Malha, and that South African troops had been placed in a state of combat readiness.

According to the report, vehicles approached the South African bases and all troops were in combat gear, fully armed, and positioned in bunkers and against embankments.

"I am so thankful that South Africa did not arrest Bashir. The battalion commander said after Bashir touched down safely in Khartoum, all the [Sudanese] troops were withdrawn. The calamity has returned to normal," read a message sent by a soldier in Darfur to his friends in South Africa.

About 1 400 South African soldiers are serving in Darfur as part of a combined African Union/United Nations peace mission (Unamid).

Source: News24

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