Brazil ready to send peacekeepers to C. Africa: general

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) –


Brazil is ready to send at least 750 peacekeepers to join a United Nations force patrolling the Central African Republic, a Brazilian general said Tuesday.

General Ajax Porto Pinheiro, who headed Brazil's former UN mission in Haiti, known as MINUSTAH, said the army was ready to respond to a UN request for reinforcements in the impoverished African country.

"The timing is not precise, but we think our troops will go to Central Africa by March or April," he told AFP.

This would first require government and congressional approval, he added.

The United Nations voted this month to boost its struggling MINUSCA mission in the Central African Republic by 900 troops.

The Security Council set a new ceiling for troops at 11,650, up from 10,750. An additional 2,080 police are authorized to serve as peacekeepers.

Pinheiro said Brazil had been looking for a new peacekeeping role ever since its 13-year Haiti operation ended in September.

"The possibility of intervening in Central Africa has been studied in depth since May," he said.

However, the new mission will be "more challenging," he warned.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who has warned of a risk of ethnic cleansing in the Central African Republic, pushed for a beefed up MINUSCA force, saying it has reached its limits in coping with growing violence.