Central African Republic: 80 Gabonese soldiers go home

BANGUI, 22 January (IRIN) - Central African Republic (CAR) Communications Minister Gabriel Koyambounou told IRIN on Wednesday that 80 of the 231 Gabonese soldiers deployed for peacekeeping operations in his country had gone home.
"Gabon had sent more troops to fill the gap created by [the non-arrival of] contingents from other countries", Koyambounou said. Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Republic of Congo (ROC) and Mali (which is not a member of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States, CEMAC) will also send troops to the CAR. The Gabonese went home on Tuesday as 120 ROC soldiers arrived in the CAR capital, Bangui.

CEMAC set up the force during its 2 October 2002 Libreville summit. Its task in the CAR is to protect President Ange-Felix Patasse, monitor the CAR-Chad border, and restructure the army. The peacekeepers began protecting Patasse and patrolling Bangui's streets on 26 December when the Sahelo-Saharan Community force pulled out.

Meanwhile, the CEMAC summit that should have taken place in Bangui in December is instead opening in the Gabonese capital, Libreville, on Wednesday. This is happening a day after the Mouvement de liberation du Congo from the Democratic Republic of the Congo announced the withdrawal of its troops from CAR by mid-February.


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