Troops from several EU countries will begin deploying in the strife-torn Central African Republic next month, a French official said yesterday.
“In March, in a few weeks, there will be in the Central African Republic several hundred troops coming from several countries of the European Union,” the junior minister for European affairs, Thierry Repentin, told French media. “It’s a major step forward.”
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton announced on Friday that the bloc planned to send 1,000 troops to the former French colony, which has been engulfed in chaos for nearly a year. She did not give a timeline.
Repentin said he could not give a more precise deployment date “because there are still negotiations in each of the countries”.
The commitment to the joint EUFOR force underscores the EU’s “awareness that what happens in Africa concerns Europe”, he said.
Besides France, five other EU countries have proposed a “substantial” contribution to the EUFOR mission.
Georgia could also supply up to 100 troops, diplomats said.
Turkey and Spain may also contribute to the mission.
The new forces will add to 2,000 French troops and around 5,400 African troops already on the ground.
The impoverished country has been torn by bloody sectarian clashes since Muslim rebels ousted president François Bozize in March 2013 and replaced him with their leader Michel Djotodia, who was himself forced out last month.
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