Chad to pull peacekeepers from African Union CAR force

Chadian peacekeepers in CAR Chadian troops make up a sizeable part of the African Union's contingent in CAR

Chad is to pull its peacekeepers from an African Union mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) in protest at claims that they aided rebels.

A statement from the Chadian foreign ministry said its troops had been criticised despite their sacrifices.

Chad has contributed roughly 850 soldiers to a 6,000-strong contingent.

Its forces have been accused of siding with Muslim rebels whose ousting of the CAR government last year was followed by a wave of religious violence.

Analysis

Aware of Chad's power to destabilise CAR, some diplomats would argue that it was better to keep the neighbour on board and a part of the UN mission.

Others would say a UN mission without Chadian troops would be ideal, but diplomatically impossible to bring about.

The most pragmatic would simply argue that at a time when it is proving extremely difficult to cobble together a UN force of 12,000, losing more than 800 troops from the existing mission is not what is needed.

The rebels, who call themselves Seleka, seized power last March. Their leader stepped down in January amid spiralling attacks and counter-attacks between groups claiming to represent different faiths.

Recently, thousands of Muslims, a minority in CAR, have been fleeing to neighbouring Chad and Cameroon after being targeted by Christian militias.

The Chadian statement said its forces had been the victims of "a gratuitous and malicious campaign" to blame them for "all the suffering in CAR".

The ousted president of CAR, Francois Bozize, told the BBC last year that Chadian troops had helped drive him from office - a claim that Chad has denied.

Last weekend, Chadian forces were blamed for the deaths of 24 people in CAR's capital, Bangui. The troops, however, said they were responding to an attack.

The Chadian statement on Thursday said its forces would remain in CAR while the details of the withdrawal were worked out.

The African Union contingent in the country is backed up by some 2,000 French troops.

Children have been victims of horrendous attacks

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