SA, CAR relations personalised - PM

2013-04-28 17:05

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Pretoria - Ousted Central African Republic (CAR) president Francois Bozize had personalised the bilateral relationship between his country and South Africa, his Prime Minister, Nicolas Tiangaye, said on Sunday.

Efforts were being made to elevate the relations to state level, he told journalists after a meeting with President Jacob Zuma at the Mahlamba Ndlopfu presidential residence in Pretoria.

“We regret that the past relation with the former president [Bozize] were more personalised, and we are now aiming at improving these relations to be more at a state level,” he said.

“It was not the fault of President Zuma or the government of South Africa. It was because President Bozize was hiding the nature of the relationship between the two countries."

He said his visit to Pretoria, with a senior delegation from the strife-torn country, would mark the beginning of a new phase in the relationship.

“We are convinced we have now entered a new chapter and that the relationship will be more transparent to both countries. This is the message that I transmitted to President Zuma and the people of South Africa on behalf of the people of CAR,” he said.

Zuma said the CAR delegation had come "to reflect on the incident which happened". He was referring to the deaths of 13 South African soldiers during fighting with rebels on 23 March at the SA National Defence Force's base near the CAR capital Bangui.

"We did not go there on any combative situation, we were there to help on details that are in the MOU [memorandum of understanding],” said Zuma.

"Once there was conflict we thought it was important to go and protect our people, our soldiers, and our material. When the engagement [clash with rebels] took place we were in the defensive position."

The CAR delegation expressed condolences on the deaths of the SANDF soldiers.

“We have accepted on behalf of South Africa the condolence message and the message which says we need to continue with the relations. I am sure as sister countries we are happy we've had this discussion.

"This could clarify many things that other people might not have known. We thank the prime minister and his delegation,” Zuma said.

Tiangaye, a widely respected lawyer and human rights activist, was appointed prime minister by Bozize in January following a ceasefire agreement signed in Libreville, Gabon. He kept his job when Seleka rebels, under Michel Djotodia, made the final push for Bangui, forcing Bozize into exile at the end of March.

Read more on:    sandf  |  francois bozize  |  jacob zuma  |  central african republic  |  central africa  |  southern africa

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