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Pretoria: Troops left Central African Republic
April 10, 2013, 2:44 am

President Jacob Zuma had initially announced the withdrawal last week

President Jacob Zuma had initially announced the withdrawal last week

The South African government has withdrawn all peace-keeping soldiers deployed to the Central African Republic (CAR) and they are now back home, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) announced on Tuesday.

In a statement the SANDF spokesperson Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga confirmed that their CAR peace-keeping mission has been terminated, saying “all the SANDF personnel who were still in the CAR have been withdrawn and are back home safe.”

In 2007, South Africa deployed military personnel to the CAR to help that country’s army with capacity building and other training needs. Earlier this year additional South African soldiers were deployed in the CAR when a civil war broke out between the rebels – known as the Seleka Coalition – and the government troops.

A ceasefire was reached January 11 and an UN-sponsored peace process led to the formation of a unity government in which the president was allowed to remain in office till 2016, provided top ministerial positions went to members of the Seleka Coalition.

However, on March 23, the Coalition appears to have broken the national unity agreement and seized the capital Bangui. In the fighting, 13 South African peace-keeping soldiers were killed and 27 others wounded during a clash with the rebels.

The CAR rebels have since seized power by staging a coup, and the South Africa government said that the military cooperation agreements with the previous democratically-elected CAR government can no longer be held.

South African President Jacob Zuma first announced his intention to withdraw the peace-keeping troops from the CAR late last week.

Xinhua and Agencies