• Germany, Britain mull troops for C. Africa: French minister


    PARIS: Germany and Britain are considering sending troops to the crisis-hit Central African Republic, a French minister said Wednesday, as Paris pushes hard for help from its European allies.

    The comments by European Affairs Minister Thierry Repentin came a day after Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced other European nations would “soon” deploy troops to Central Africa, where France already has a 1,600-strong force attempting to quell deadly sectarian violence.

    A military source in Brussels said Tuesday that Belgium was considering the dispatch of some 150 troops for a “protection mission”, but Britain’s defense ministry ruled out any similar move.

    Speaking on RTL radio, Repentin confirmed that Belgium could send troops at the end of January to prop up the French force—which itself was deployed to assist an African peacekeeping mission.

    “There’s also talk of Germany, of Britain,” he added.

    He said the issue would be discussed and decided on at an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday.

    Central Africa spiraled into chaos after a March coup in which the mainly Muslim Seleka rebel group overthrew president Francois Bozize.

    Rebel leader Michel Djotodia was installed as president and disbanded Seleka, however, many of the rebels went rogue, spreading terror which government forces could not stop.

    Months of massacres, rapes and looting followed, with locals forming Christian vigilante groups in response.

    As violence spiked in the capital, France deployed troops to its former colony on December 5 under a UN mandate to support the struggling African peacekeeping force.

    Repentin said President Francois Hollande was due to speak about the situation at the Brussels summit.

    Aside from Belgium, the Spanish government has backed plans to send a Hercules military transport aircraft with a “maintenance and support unit” of up to 60 personnel, subject to parliamentary approval. But it is not likely to include combat troops.

    Other countries, including the United States, are providing logistical and financial help.



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