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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: CEMAC forces in CAR to number 350

BANGUI, 9 April 2003 (IRIN) - The strength of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States (CEMAC) force which will remain in the Central African Republic (CAR), has been set at 350, CEMAC said on Tuesday.

"Donors have accepted to support a force of 350 men", Martin Mavoungou, the commander-in-chief of CEMAC in CAR, told IRIN.

The force, which currently comprises 272 men from Gabon and the Republic of Congo, was originally brought in to CAR to protect the former president, Ange-Felix Patasse, to secure the CAR-CHAD border and to restructure the CAR army. On 15 March, Patasse was ousted in a coup by Francois Bozize, who declared himself the new president.

Mavoungou said that CEMAC leaders were discussing a new mandate for the force, and that a draft was being passed around "for amendments and suggestions." He said that the Gabonese ministers for foreign affairs and for defence, Jean Ping and Ali Bongo, visited CAR on Monday to assess the situation.

A summit in Brazzaville on 21 March agreed that Chadian troops who entered CAR to secure the capital for Bozize four days after his coup, would be integrated into the CEMAC force. Mavounga said the number of Chadians in the new CEMAC force had not yet been decided.

Themes: (IRIN) Conflict

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