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France will boost its troop presence in the Central African Republic by the end of the year to help prevent the country from spiraling out of control, the French foreign minister said Sunday.
The Central African Republic has descended into chaos since rebels ousted President François Bozizé in March, the latest coup in a country that remains one of the world’s poorest despite resources that include gold and uranium. Geographically, it sits at the center of what some analysts have called an “arc of insecurity,” from Somalia in East Africa to Mauritania in the west.
France has urged world and regional powers not to ignore the conflict, which has already led to more than 400,000 people being driven from their homes. Last week, the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved a resolution sponsored by France, the nation’s former colonial power, demanding that the weak interim government put in place after rebels took over adhere to previously-negotiated plans to hold elections in early 2015.
The African Union has deployed about 2,500 troops there, but its resources are limited, prompting the Security Council resolution pledging support and potentially turning the operation into a United Nations peacekeeping force.
“We will increase our support, especially in the logistics domain,” said France’s foreign minister, Laurent Fabius. “We will also increase troops, a little at first. This will be done before the end of the year.”
France currently has about 400 troops in Bangui, protecting the airport and French interests. Mr. Fabius did not say how many troops would be added, but some officials said the number could be increased to about 700 or 750.
Mr. Fabius said the dissolution of the rebels, an alliance known as Seleka, must be real and concrete.
“We cannot have armed bands roaming the country,” Mr. Fabius told a news conference in the riverside capital. “We will not let you down.”
– NY Times