CAR

CAR-Equatorial Guinea: Equatorial Guinea troop contingent arrives

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BANGUI, 24 January (IRIN) - A platoon of soldiers from Equatorial Guinea arrived in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, on Thursday where it joined the Gabonese and Congolese peacekeepers deployed by the Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States (CEMAC), Col Basile Sillou, the Guinean chief of staff, said.
"I confirm the arrival of 31 Equatorial Guinean soldiers, which is Equatorial Guinea's quota to the force," he told IRIN on Friday.

The arrival of the Guineans took place two days after that of 120 Republic of Congo soldiers, and the departure of 80 of Gabon's 231 troops. Gabon had sent more troops than its agreed quota to fill the gap created by the non-arrival of other contingents.

Cameroon and Mali (which is not a CEMAC member) are expected to send their troops to the 350-man force, whose mission is to protect President Ange-Felix Patasse, monitor the CAR-Chad border and restructure the CAR army. The force has already taken over presidential security and begun patrolling Bangui's streets.

In the meantime, the fourth ordinary CEMAC summit ended on Thursday in the Gabonese capital, Libreville. In its final communique, the summit urged Patasse to hold national reconciliation talks as promised. The leaders also recommended that a joint CAR-Chad commission be set up to settle bilateral political and security difference.

Radio-Centrafrique, reporting from Libreville, said that in their final communiqué, the leaders had called on both countries to refrain from making bellicose statements.

The radio added that during a reception and gala night marking the end of the summit, the presidents of Chad and the CAR had danced with each other's wives. Some observers viewed this as a sign of a thaw in the frosty relations between the two countries.

[ENDS]

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