CAR

Central African Republic: New commander for CEMAC peacekeeping force

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BANGUI, 19 February (IRIN) - A new commander-in-chief for the peacekeeping force of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States (known by its French acronym, CEMAC) has replaced Gen Mohammad Hachim Ratanga, who flew back to Gabon for health reasons, government-controlled Radio Centrafrique reported on Tuesday.
Ratanga was replaced by another Gabonese officer, Rear-Admiral Martin Mavoungou. "He is a man with much experience as he has participated in several foreign missions," Col Basile Sillou, the CEMAC force chief of staff, told IRIN on Tuesday.

Ratanga, who also headed the UN Peacekeeping Mission in the CAR (MINURCA) from April 1998-February 2000, has been in command of the CEMAC force since December 2002.

The force was mandated by the 2 October 2002 Libreville summit to protect CAR President Ange-Felix Patasse, monitor the securing of the CAR-Chad border, and restructure the CAR national army.

Gabon has contributed 146 soldiers to the CEMAC force, while the Republic of Congo has contributed 126 and Equatorial Guinea 31. Malian and Cameroonian contingents are still awaited, to bring the force's total authorised strength to 350.

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