Zuma wants urgent action in CAR crisis

2013-10-14 14:59

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President Jacob Zuma has hinted that South Africa would intervene again in the Central African Republic (CAR) to help resolve the escalating crisis there.

The country has been without a government following a bloody coup in March, ousting president Francois Bozize.

“It is clear we need to do something, in conformity with the decisions of the United Nations and the African Union (AU),” he told journalists at a joint press conference at the Union Buildings following a meeting with France’s president Francois Hollande this morning.

He said South Africa agreed “we need to do something and act quickly”.

South Africa has committed “that we are going to be ready to be part of the solution to help the Central African Republic come back to its normality,” he said.

“Certainly we will be there,” he said. Zuma said he was happy that Hollande “will support our efforts in the CAR”.

Zuma said the CAR was given 18 months to hold elections following the coup. “It is clear that the work towards the elections cannot happen, because of the situation. It therefore needs urgent intervention.”

Zuma said South Africa would be raising the matter with the AU.

He said the AU was in the process of establishing a continental intervention force, but he admitted that it had been slow to intervene in Mali, where France had previously had to step in under UN auspices.

Zuma said France, which currently has 400 troops in that country, was in the CAR to protect French citizens, while South Africa had been there before the coup under a different bilateral agreement.

South Africa withdrew its forces earlier this year after 14 troops were killed in a rebel ambush, and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe promised Parliament that troops would not be sent back there.

Following a mission to the CAR yesterday by his foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, Hollande today said: “In the CAR there is a humanitarian emergency with daily exactions. There is a political emergency because there is no state and finally there is also an emergency on the regional level because there is the risk of a spilling over.”

Over and above that, Fabius also reported that “we might witness religious conflict”.

Fabius said yesterday France would boost its troop presence in the CAR under a forthcoming UN resolution to stem the crisis.

Hollande said France’s stance towards security in Africa would change to help Africa solve its own problems. He said this was a “new dimension” in its relationship with countries on the continent.

Hollande said France would help “support” and train African troops.

A summit in Paris to deal with security on the continent has been scheduled for December and Zuma has agreed to attend.

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