France will boost its troops presence in the Central African Republic by the end of the year under a forthcoming UN resolution to help prevent the country from spiralling out of control, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.
Fabius and the European Union’s aid chief, Kristalina Georgieva, are in the country to drum up support and international interest for a largely forgotten crisis.
“We will increase our support especially in the logistics domain after United Nations resolutions (are approved). We will also increase troops, a little at first. This will be done before the end of the year,” Fabius said on Sunday.
France currently has about 400 troops in Bangui, protecting the airport and French interests. Fabius did not say how many troops will be added, but sources have told Reuters the numbers could be increased to about 700-750.
The Central African Republic has descended into chaos since the Seleka rebel group ousted President Francois Bozize in March, the latest coup in a country that remains one of the world’s poorest despite resources ranging from gold to uranium.
Since seizing power, aided by the Seleka alliance, transitional President Michel Djotodia has failed to control the ex-rebel fighters who have been accused of unleashing a wave violence on civilians despite being officially dissolved.
The African Union has responded to the conflict by deploying about 2,500 troops. But its resources are limited, prompting Paris to seek a UN Security Council mandate that would turn the operation into a UN peacekeeping force ultimately supported by French troops.
Fabius said the dissolution of Seleka, a grouping of five northern rebel movements, must be real and concrete with some of them returning to civilian life while others should be in
The Central African Republic has been in turmoil since a coalition of rebel groups joined forces to overthrow the president in March and put their leader in charge.