Zuma should have withdrawn troops in car: Sandu

By Drum Digital
25 March 2013

President Jacob Zuma should have withdrawn South African troops when Central African Republic President Francois Bozize failed to honour a peace agreement, the SA National Defence Force Union (Sandu) said on Monday.

"The president... should have withdrawn our troops at the very moment Bozize dishonoured his obligations in this respect," Sandu national secretary Pikkie Greeff said in a statement.

"His dishonouring of that agreement should have been the green light for the withdrawal of our troops from that country."

Greeff called on Zuma to withdraw "our troops with immediate effect, even if it entails launching a military offense to relieve our troops in distress".

On Sunday the SA National Defence Force said South African soldiers were killed and injured during the clashes in the CAR.

"Following the engagement that we had between the SANDF members and the CAR rebels there were some casualties from both sides," Brig-Gen Xolani Mabanga said.

"We are at the moment still trying to assess the information from the people on the ground. We cannot therefore confirm any figures."

However, some media reported that at least six South African soldiers have died.

Mabanga said the situation in the CAR was calm by Sunday afternoon and there was no threat to the lives of South African soldiers.

"But we don't take anything lightly. We are taking all the precautionary measures."

He said the contact between SANDF members and CAR rebel forces took place on Saturday.

The clashes happened at an SANDF base on the outskirts of Bangui, the CAR capital, as well as other isolated incidents.

CAR President Francois Bozize fled the capital early on Sunday after hundreds of armed rebels threatening to overthrow him invaded the city, the Associated Press reported.

By midday on Sunday the rebels reportedly took control of Bangui.

A peace deal was signed on January 11 which allowed Bozize to finish his term that expires in 2016, but the rebels soon began accusing the president of failing to fulfil the promises that were made.

They demanded that Bozize send home South African forces who were helping bolster the country's military. And they sought to integrate some 2000 rebel fighters into Central African Republic's armed forces.

-by Sapa

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