‘France has no plans to boost troop numbers in CAR’

Paris, Jan 24: France has no plans to send more troops to the Central African Republic (CAR) after Bangui’s officials calls for additional foreign troops to restore order and stop sectarian violence in the country, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Thursday.

“We do not intend to send more troops to Central African Republic because African forces has been strengthened. There is also better coordination and the due arrival of European forces,” Xinhua quoted the minister as saying.

The European Union (EU) Monday decided to send up to 1,000 soldiers to help stabilise the African country after Paris urged its European partners to do more to back its 1,600 soldiers already deployed in its former colony.

“Different countries must now say how they will contribute to the deployment of this European force. One of the difficult issues in Bangui is the airport (where some 100,000 civilians have taken refuge to flee fightings),” Le Drian added.

Speaking to a news channel, the minister reiterated that France had no plans to stay for a long time in CAR.

“It is a matter of months. I think at the end of the year we can reach a political transition, if a consensus to achieve security is reached,” he said.

Central African Republic’s new interim president Catherine Samba-Panza told the French Daily Le Parisien Thursday that “the present number of troops is not sufficient to regain order in Bangui”, urging other European countries to “follow France’s example.”

In December last year, France deployed 1,600 troops with UN support to protect civilians after an escalation of the violence in which hundreds of people were killed in Bangui.

Two French soldiers have been killed in CAR in an operation to disarm rival Muslim and Christian fighters responsible for the bloody conflict.

IANS