South Africa to withraw remaining troops from Central African Republic
Jacob Zuma says intergovermental deal no longer valid
Members of the South Africa National Defence Force carry the remains of 13 members who were killed in the Central African Republic. The handover of the bodies took place at the Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria. Photograph: Reuters
South Africa has decided to withdraw the remainder of its troops from the Central African Republic following an emergency regional summit in Chad tasked with bringing stability to the war-torn country.
South African president Jacob Zuma said after Wednesday’s summit the decision to withdraw the remains of a 200-strong force that engaged with rebels late last month was taken because the intergovernmental deal with CAR that had them there was no longer valid.
“We were in CAR on the basis of the agreement between the two countries,” he said after the meeting in Chad’s capital Ndjamena.
“Our mission was to help train the [CAR] soldiers ... since the coup and the self-appointment of rebels, it was clear that the government is no longer there,” said Mr Zuma.
Wednesday’s lengthy summit ended with African leaders deciding not to recognise CAR’s self-proclaimed leader Michel Djotodia, who heads the Seleka rebel movement that ousted President François Bozizé’s regime.
A transitional president should be elected in place of Mr Djotodia, said Chad’s president Idriss Deby.
“As things stand now, it is impossible to recognise a self-proclaimed president. A committee selected by national figures must lead the transition [in CAR]. This body will have the executive role and must vote for a transitional president,” he said.
The decision to withdraw was welcomed in South Africa, as the killing of its 13 troops and the wounding of 27 more by the rebels stirred anger at home.
It was the country’s heaviest military loss since the apartheid era.