SA troops to be withdrawn from CAR

In a decision made at an emergency summit, SA troops in CAR will be brought back home.

Prime Minister of Chad Joseph Djimrangar Dadnadji receives President Jacob Zuma at Hassan Djamous International Airport during his working visit to Chad ahead of the Central African Republic Summit. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma has decided to withdraw all South African troops from the Central African Republic (CAR).

Zuma is attending an emergency summit on the CAR in Chad where a decision was taken not to recognise the new rebel government.

At least 13 South African soldiers were killed two weeks ago in what apparently was a bloody battle with rebels in the CAR.

The soldiers were killed when Seleka rebels took over the CAR including its national and local radio and TV stations, causing its President to flee.

The soldier's deaths have raised questions about the legitimacy of their deployment to the CAR with speculation about whether there's a link between their deployment and business deals being struck in the background.

The decision not to recognise the new rebel government by the African leaders who met in Chad on Wednesday means South Africa's agreements with that country effectively fall away.

Whatever troops remain in the CAR will now be withdrawn, although most of the soldiers have been brought home already.

Leaders who met at the summit believe a transitional President should be elected to run the CAR for no longer than a year and a half during which time a democratically elected leader can be chosen.

The developments at the summit make this a diplomatic retreat while the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has always maintained running away was never an option.

The return of the troops is already being welcomed by opposition parties.

A media briefing is scheduled for Thursday morning to offer more clarity on the summit and its resolutions.

Meanwhile, Chadian President Idriss D├ęby said a committee selected by national figures must lead the transition.

This body will have an executive role and must vote for a transitional president who would serve for no more than 18 months.

A mission of ministers from the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU) among others will go to Bangui later on Thursday to take the message to Central Africans.