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3rd Mar 2024

France goes to war in Africa to 'save lives'

  • French troops in Mali. Hollande said the CAR mission is designed to 'save lives' (Photo: defense.gouv.fr)

French President Francois Hollande has announced another military intervention in Africa, but plans to deploy an EU battle group are unlikely to go ahead.

"This operation will be swift, it does not have the vocation to last long," he said on Thursday (5 December) on plans to send soldiers to the Central African Republic (CAR).

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The UN Security Council on the same day unanimously backed a joint African-French force of about 4,800 men to stop violence in the country, which has intensified after rebels ousted President Francois Bozize in March.

At least 16 people were killed on Thursday in Bangui, its capital, during an attack by Bozize's supporters, the BBC reports.

With 600 French troops already in the CAR, Hollande pledged to double their number "within days, if not hours."

He explained that the snap intervention will be smaller than the one in Mali in January, when 2,500 troops went in.

France is a former colonial power in CAR and owns uranium mines in the resource-rich country.

But Hollande promised he has "no other objective than to save human lives."

He added there is a "necessity to show solidarity with a small country, a friendly country, the poorest in the world, who is asking for our help."

The US state department welcomed "France's decision to reinforce its military presence," adding that it is "appalled by today's reports of the murder of innocent women and children outside of Bangui."

Meanwhile, a proposal to dispatch an EU battlegroup to CAR is unlikely to be approved by other EU nations.

Britain is currently in charge of the standby unit of 1,500 troops, but is reportedly not keen on backing such deployment.

According to a paper drafted by EU security experts and seen by AFP, "an EU military force could make a meaningful contribution to the restoration of a secure environment for the civilian population, thereby facilitating humanitarian and development assistance operations from the EU due to its central role as donor."

EU battlegroups have never gone into action since their creation in 2007.

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