Rwandan troops deploy to CAR

2014-01-16 12:56
File: AFP

File: AFP

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Kigali - Rwandan troops flew on US military aircraft Thursday to the Central African Republic Thursday as part of an African Union mission to the war-torn nation, the Rwandan army said.

Rwanda army chief Patrick Nyamvumba saluted the first batch of a total 850 soldiers who Kigali is sending to troubled CAR, as they boarded a US airplane.

Rwanda's deployment comes a day after the AU called for more troops to help stabilise CAR.

The AU force known as MISCA, which currently has 4 400 soldiers but is meant to be reinforced up to 6 000, struggled to contain the country's descent into a sectarian bloodbath after a rebel coalition called Seleka installed its leader, Michel Djotodia, as the majority-Christian country's first Muslim president in March.

Djotodia stepped down last week under international pressure, but CAR remains tense as its transitional parliament prepares to elect a new interim president.

One of the rules under consideration would bar anyone from running who has been in a rebel group or militia in the past 20 years.

The AU force, which already includes troops from Burundi, Cameroon, Congo Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Chad and Equatorial Guinea, is working alongside at least 1 600 French troops.

"Besides the battalion's experience as part of the entire RDF [Rwanda Defence Force] in peacekeeping operations, it has undergone a pre-deployment training with specifics on CAR," army spokesman Joseph Nzabamwita said in statement.

After Djotodia seized power, his Seleka fighters' looting, killing and raping sparked revenge attacks from Christian auto-defence militias. The violence claimed 1 000 lives in the last month alone and uprooted almost a million people.

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