CAR: SA pulls out despite pleas to stay

South Africa is pulling its soldiers from the Central African Republic (CAR) despite pleas from Economic Community of Central African States (Eccas) members to stay, because South Africa does not support the unconstitutional power takeover in that country.

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane today revealed that this is what President Jacob Zuma told the Eccas summit, held in Chad yesterday.

The majority of those attending pleaded with South Africa not to pull out, Nkoana-Mashabana said.

Zuma has been under immense pressure to pull the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) soldiers out of that country, and to explain why the soldiers were sent there in the first place. This is after 13 SANDF soldiers were killed by the Seleka rebels, and scores were injured.

“The position of the AU (African Union) is very clear that there could be no recognition given to any government that comes to power through unconstitutional means, especially through a violent military coup such as the one in the CAR.

“The decision by the AU, the Eccas and South Africa not to recognise the self-proclaimed government in the CAR will go a long way in strengthening the authority of the AU, its statutes and policies, which are adopted collectively at summits and other organs of our continental organisation,” Nkoana-Mashabane told journalists in Pretoria this morning.

She said South African troops would return, as the 2007 bilateral agreement between the South African and CAR governments was no longer valid, as the government had been toppled.

The leaders of Eccas asked envoys, which include South African delegates, to inform the new government in Bangui of the decision of the summit.

The CAR has been asked to form a committee made up of representatives of all sectors of society to run it in its 18-month transition back to constitutional rule.

It is not clear whether CAR President Michel Djotodia will accept the ultimatum as he has suspended the Constitution, and has proclaimed that he will run the country by decree.

Nkoana-Mashabane suggested that the rebels were unlikely to defy the regional leaders.

A meeting of Eccas will be convened by Chadian president Idriss Deby Itno as soon as the envoys have reported back.

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