Envoys sent to CAR rebels - minister

2013-04-04 19:08
Maite Nkoana-Mashabane (Picture: Sapa)

Maite Nkoana-Mashabane (Picture: Sapa)

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Pretoria - South African envoys will take part in a diplomatic mission by the central African regional bloc to convey its condemnation to rebels who have seized control of the Central African Republic, International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said on Thursday.

"The leadership of our continent is showing no tolerance to unlawful changes of government. The president of Chad [Idriss Deby, also chairperson of Eccas] said ‘we are sending this mission to say all of us in unison find it impossible to tolerate what has happened in the CAR," the minister said.

"We have been requested by Eccas to be part of the envoys that have gone to deliver the news [to the rebels]."

President Jacob Zuma attended the extraordinary summit of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), held in Chad, as a guest.

The summit resolved that the government of the CAR, constituted by Seleka rebels after the 23 March coup, was not recognised as legitimate.

Nkoana-Mashababe said after getting feedback from the team of envoys, Deby would convene another summit in Chad and South Africa would also attend.

Asked what African states would do if the rebels did not co-operate, Nkoana-Mashababe said the insurgents’ options were limited.

"Why don’t we give this mission a chance? Why don’t we allow this mission to arrive there, deliver the message, and wait? she asked.

"How does one operate in a situation by saying I will not co-operate with my region, or anyone? I don’t know of any leadership in any part of the world that said I want to isolate myself."

The minister said the date of the next summit was unknown, but no time would be wasted as soon as feedback was received from the team of diplomats.

The president of Chad had dismissed allegations suggesting that South African troops were attacked by his army, Nkoana-Mashabane said.

"When asked about that, [at the Eccas summit] his response was very candid. He said it’s just a rumour. It’s not my place to contest what the head of state said."

Zuma announced on Wednesday that South African troops would be pulling out of the besieged CAR.

Nkoana-Mashabane said government would investigate international reports querying the death toll of South African soldiers in Bangui.

A French news agency reported that the rebels claim the number of South African soldiers killed in the Bangui battle was between 36 and 50. The South African government put the death toll at 13.

Nkoana-Mashabane said official statements indicated the situation in the CAR was chaotic.

"What I can say is that what was confirmed by United Nations and African Union representatives based in the Central African Republic is that in a coup situation there will be chaos, loss of life, and other unforeseen circumstances.

"We will verify the facts and come back to you if there is such a situation. At the moment, we have not received such reports," she said.

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