Rwanda deploys troops to Central Africa

KIGALI (AFP) – Rwanda has deployed troops to the Central African Republic (CAR), where its soldiers serving in the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping force have been targetted by rebels, the Defence Ministry in Kigali said.

“The Government of Rwanda has deployed force protection troops to the Central African Republic, under an existing bilateral agreement on defence,” said a statement issued late Sunday.

“The deployment is in response to the targetting of the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) contingent under the UN Peacekeeping force by rebels supported by (former president) Francois Bozize.”

On Saturday, the Central African Republic’s government accused Bozize of leading an attempted coup as tensions mount ahead of key presidential and legislative elections on Sunday.

A spokesman for the UN’s MINUSCA peacekeeping force in CAR said on Sunday that armed rebels that had been advancing on the capital Bangui had been pushed back.

Rwanda has been a main contributor to MINUSCA since it first deployed in 2014.

No details were given on when or how many Rwandan troops would be deployed, but the Defence Ministry said they would “also contribute to ensure a peaceful and secure general elections scheduled on Sunday”.

MINUSCA’s Rwandan contingent is notably in charge of the security of CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadera and the presidential palace.