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French soldiers in CAR reduced to 350 as Operation Sangaris ends

French soldiers in CAR reduced to 350 as Operation Sangaris ends

Central African Republic

The end of the French Operation Sangaris in the Central African Republic is drawing near with the reduction of French soldiers to 350 men as announced by French defense minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian.

The headquarters of the French army announced the reduction on Wednesday via Twitter.

“Now Sangaris is a tactical reserve force of 350 soldiers to aid the 12,500 peacekeepers,” it said.

France launched the operation in December 2013 during heightened sectarian violence in the Central African Republic with as many as 2,500 soldiers.

The number reduced to 900 men months before the presidential election which was won by Faustin-Archange Touadera in February marking the end of the political violence.

The French defense minister had announced in March the withdrawal of the Sangaris mission from the country fueling the displeasure of the new president at the time.

Faustin-Archange Touadera during a visit to France in April expressed concern about the announced withdrawal of the French operation.

President Hollande however said the mission will stay in the country to help train the CAR army as much is needed to be done in terms of security and disarmament.

Between 2013 and 2015, predominantly Christian militia Anti-Balaka and former rebels and predominantly Muslim Seleka caused serious violence that ravaged the country’s economy.

The French intervention and the deployment of 12,000 MINUSCA peacekeepers helped reduce the violence. Meanwhile, the reputation of the French army was marred by several accusations of sexual abuse.

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