Cape Town — The government of the Central African Republic says that Russia and Rwanda sent hundreds of troops into the country after an alleged coup bid that took place ahead of presidential and parliamentary polls scheduled for December 27, Al Jazeera reports.
Reuters reports that security forces and U.N. peacekeepers have been battling rebels who have occupied towns and roads outside the capital.
On Saturday December 19, the government accused former president Francois Bozizé of an attempted coup after the rebel groups merged and started to advance on the capital Bangui.
Rwanda has confirmed deploying troops, with Rwandan newspaper The New Times reporting that the troops were deployed under an existing bilateral agreement on defence in the country. According to a statement "the deployment is in response to the targeting of the Rwanda Defence Force contingent under the UN Peacekeeping force by rebels supported by François Bozizé."
The Rwanda Defence Force is one of the largest troop contributors to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), the New Times says.
Bozizé, who led CAR between 2003 and 2013, has been barred from running in the election by the country's top court. He had fled the country but returned in December 2019.
The Chinese news channel CGTN is reporting that Russia has denied sending troops to the country.