PARIS, Jun 5 – Burundi is ready to send hundreds more troops to Central African Republic, where international forces are trying to put an end to sectarian violence, President Pierre Nkurunziza told AFP.
“We have been asked by the African Union and the United Nations to raise the number of our troops in the CAR,” Nkurunziza said during a visit to Paris. “We are ready to deploy 450 troops and have prepared two police units of a total of 280 officers.”
Burundi is looking for necessary equipment and support from its partners to see the mission through, he added.
Burundi currently has 850 men in the 6,000-strong African peacekeeping force known by the acronym MISCA, which is trying to contain the crisis along with about 2,000 French troops.
MISCA will be gradually replaced by a 12,000-strong UN peacekeeping force from September.
Sectarian violence between Christians and Muslims in the former French colony has left tens of thousands dead and displaced around a quarter of the country’s 4.6 million people.
The chronically unstable Central African Republic sank into chaos after minority Muslim fighters from the Seleka former rebel group seized power in March 2013 after helping to topple president Francois Bozize, but then refused to lay down their arms and went rogue.
Their campaign of killing, raping and looting prompted members of the Christian majority to form vigilante groups that fought back.