France withdraws its forces from Central African Republic

Yaounde (Cameroon), April 6 (IANS) France has withdrawn its Sangaris operation forces from the Central African Republic, an official source said on Tuesday, reiterating an announcement made during the swearing in ceremony of Faustin Archange Touadera as the new president on March 30 in Bangui.

Sangaris is the name given to the military operation deployed in December 2013 with an official objective of stopping violence that was going on in Central African Republic, and to disarm combatants of ex-Seleka rebels as well as their anti-Balaka rival militia, Xinhua news agency reported.

“The progressive return of peace and stability as well as effective deployment of UN peacekeepers will allow gradual disengagement of French forces from operation Sangaris, as it was announced on March 30 by French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian during the swearing in of Touadera,” the French Embassy in Yaounde said in a statement.

“With permission from Cameroonian authorities, materials and vehicles for operation Sangaris were transported by air between Bangui and the Douala air base in Cameroon’s commercial capital. They will be loaded on a ship at the Douala port,” the statement continued.

According to French authorities, the entire operation of transporting French military materials via the Cameroonian territory was conducted under the escort of Cameroonian police.

According to official figures, the operation which cost about 100 million euros, had 1,600 soldiers, a number that was raised to 2,000 in February 2014, before being reduced to 900 in July 2015.

The French government hailed its troops for the reduction of violence in Central African Republic, but the transition government in Bangui and analysts accused the forces of having troubled relations with the protagonists in the crisis.

The French forces were equally accused of committing sexual abuse against civilians in the Central African Republic.

Since getting independence from France in 1960, this was the seventh French intervention in Central African Republic where France has a permanent base at the Bangui international airport.

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