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CAR citizens react to departure of French troops

French troops lower the flag in CAR as they prepare to leave the country   -  
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Central African Republic

The last contingent of French troops left the Central African Republic on Thursday following a chill in relations caused by a closer relationship between Bangui and Moscow.

Former colonial power France sent troops to the country after a coup in 2013 unleashed a civil war along sectarian lines.

For many, the departure of the French troops means responsibility for protection lies now with the government.

"It is now up to the Central African authorities to take its responsibilities, to protect the entire population of Bangui and the countryside, so there’s not much more to say", said hydraulic senior technician, Patrick Hervé Déba.

Over the last few years, friction intensified between France and CAR over a mounting Russian military presence in the country. Last year, Paris decided to suspend military cooperation.

"When military forces arrive in CAR, they operate in support of the CAR armed forces. And when they think they achieved their objectives, their goals in the CAR, it is perfectly normal for them to leave and return home. We think that all other forces still supporting Central African Republic, such as the MINUSCA, Russian and Rwandan forces, might at some point need to leave our territory to respect the CAR’s state sovereignty and our army’s sovereignty", said Ben Wilson Ngassan, spokesperson for G16 constitution protection civil society

Earlier this year France withdrew the last of its troops from former colony Mali after the military brought in Russian paramilitaries to fight a jihadist insurgency.

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