South Africa will be boosting its troop numbers in the troubled Central African Republic as rebels threaten to overrun the capital Bangui and overthrow President Francois Bozize.
The South African presidency said in a statement on Sunday that it will be sending more troops in the CAR to help maintain the government in Bangui with which it has a defense pact.
The government in Pretoria did not specify the exact number of new troops to be sent to CAR to augment its military presence there although South Africa already maintains an estimated 200 troops involved in the training of Congolese army personnel.
According to the statement from President Jacob Zuma’s office, the planned troop deployment was part of South Africa’s bid to help usher in peace and stability in the region.
The statement also quoted a foreign ministry spokesman in Pretoria as saying that the new contingent would be mandated to protect members of the South African military already in the CAR where a Sekela rebel coalition are still poised to invade Bangui after capturing several key towns including the diamond settlements of Bria and Sibut.
The rebels had earlier captured the town of Damara which is located just over 80 km from Bangui. Under the aegis of a regional mediation, they are supposed to hold talks with the government in Bangui.
Gabon, the Republic of Congo, Chad and Cameroon maintain troops in the CAR as part of a Central African Multinational Force (Fomac).
Former colonial power France has rejected calls by Bozize to intervene and halt the rebel advances while the United States and the UN have evacuated their non-essential staff from the volatile country.
The coalition which consists of three rebel factions said they are up in arms against Bozize’s government after it reneged on a 2007 peace deal which had called for the payment of fighters who willing to lay down their arms.
They have also refused Bozize’s offer of a government of national unity.
Source African Press Agency
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