SA soldiers in CAR for 5 years
07 January 2013, 09:58
Bangui - South Africa has authorised the sending of 400 soldiers to Central African Republic (CAR) where government and regional troops are battling a rebel insurgency.
"President Jacob Zuma has authorised the deployment of 400 South African National Defence Force personnel to the Central African Republic," Zuma's office said in a statement.
Their mandate is to March 2018, it added.
The South African presidency said the soldiers would help with training of the Central African Republic defence force.
It "will also assist CAR with the disarmament, demobilisation and re-integration processes", it added.
Earlier a military source said at least 200 South African soldiers had arrived in the capital Bangui to try to secure it from advancing rebels.
"This well-equipped South African contingent arrived in the middle of the week. ... Its mission is to secure the Central African capital," the source told AFP.
The troops, based not far from the neighbourhood housing the residence of President Francois Bozize, "joins in Central Africa a South African military contingent already deployed as part of military co-operation", the source added.
After the South African troops arrived, the co-ordinator of the Citizens Coalition Opposed to the Armed Rebels, Levy Yakite, appealed on Sunday on national radio for his movement to remove roadblocks set up to prevent attempts by the rebels to infiltrate.
With the Seleka rebel coalition threatening to march on Bangui, Gabon, Congo and Cameroon in recent days have each sent 120 troops, according to a source with the multinational African peacekeeping force Fomac.
They will join 400 Chadian soldiers already deployed to protect Damara, the last town on the rebels' road to Bangui, the source said.
Eyewitness News reports that SANDF spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini said the "decision to send the local troops was well analysed and the troops will be protecting other South African forces and property.
“We have indeed deployed a number of support and protection members to make sure that our contingent that has been there is protected and safe.”
The troops have apparently been sent there to ensure that the property South Africa has in the country is secure and safe.
South Africa and the Central African Republic have a bilateral agreement of support.