Chad is to withdraw its troops from the African Union-led peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad's foreign ministry announced Thursday.
Around 850 Chadian troops are taking part in the 6,000-strong UN-backed CAR mission, known as MISCA, deployed to the country in December last year in an effort to restore peace amid an outbreak of inter-religious violence.
However, Chad’s forces have been accused of siding with the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels, whose seizure of power last year sparked tit-for-tat violence with Christian militia, known as the “anti-balaka”.
The soldiers have been involved in a number of controversial incidents since arriving in the country, mostly in clashes with Christian militia. The most recent came on Saturday when it was reported Chadian troops had opened fire on residents in the capital Bangui, killing eight.
“Despite the sacrifices we have made, Chad and Chadians have been targeted in a gratuitous and malicious campaign that blamed them for all the suffering in CAR," Chad's foreign ministry said in a statement announcing the planned withdrawal.
The statement said Chadian troops would remain in place while the practicalities of the withdrawal are confirmed.
Chad’s withdrawal is a major setback to efforts to build a large international force to stem religious conflict in the impoverished country.
Seleka rebels seized power in March 2013 but were forced to step aside in January after failing to stem violence that UN experts have warned pushed the country close to genocide.
At its peak, around 1 million people were displaced by the violence. At least 2,000 people have been killed since December alone.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-04-03