South Africa has decided to pull its troops out of the Central African Republic because the deal under which they were deployed has become void with the fall of the government there, President Jacob Zuma has said.
"We have taken a decision to withdraw our soldiers," Zuma was quoted as saying on Thursday by the public broadcaster SABC at the end of a summit of African regional leaders.
On Wednesday, Clayson Monyela, spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, tweeted that South Africa had been requested to keep troops in the Central African Republic, but had decided to withdraw following the fall of the government there.
South Africa's decision to withdraw troops comes amid rising domestic criticism over South Africa's decision to deploy its troops to the country, after 13 soldiers died during combat with Seleka rebels last weekend.
The news comes amid strident debate about why the troops were deployed and accusations that they were sent to protect the business interests of a company allied to the governing African National Congress, charges President
Zuma has denied.
Pikkie Greeff, national secretary of the South African National Defense Union, told The Associated Press that "the biggest bulk'' of the 200 soldiers had been withdrawn during the weekend.
He said they had been taken across the Ubangui River into Congo.Other media reports suggested the soldiers had been taken to Uganda.
South African defense officials say some 200 soldiers fought off about 3,000 rebels who entered the capital on March 23 and eventually overthrew the government