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France tells Africa to take charge of security
by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) Dec 06, 2013

US praises French 'leadership' in C. Africa conflict
Washington (AFP) Dec 06, 2013 - Washington praised French military forces Friday for beginning the tough task of helping restore security to the strife-torn Central African Republic.

"We believe that France's strong leadership in committing 800 additional troops and their support to the African Union-led stabilization mission in the CAR (MISCA) sends a forceful message to all parties that the violence must end," deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.

France deployed its troops on Friday as part of a UN-backed operation to quell violence between Christians and Muslims in its former colony.

"We are deeply concerned by the worsening violence in the CAR, which has resulted in a growing humanitarian crisis and increased the risk of mass atrocities," Harf said in a statement.

The United States has pledged some $40 million in equipment, training and logistical support to the French-African force known as MISCA.

Germany said it was ready to offer transport and refueling aircraft to the French operation, but Harf told journalists she was not aware of any specific requests for US military help.

"Obviously, we would consider them if they came in," she said.

Germany ready to offer France airlift for CAR mission
Berlin (AFP) Dec 06, 2013 - Germany said Friday it was ready to offer transport and refuelling aircraft to the French military operation in the conflict-torn Central African Republic (CAR).

The German military has five A310 transport aircraft available and would likely offer to fly French forces and equipment to the region if requested, a defence ministry spokesman said.

Unlike in a combat operation, the German parliament would not have to vote on such logistical support, as the flights would head to a country neighbouring CAR, added the spokesman at a regular press conference.

The UN Security Council gave the green light on Thursday for French and African troops to be deployed to the African state, which has plunged into chaos since the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted the president in a coup in March.

France's President Francois Hollande has ordered 600 more troops to the country, doubling its force in and around the capital Bangui, which was the scene of Christian-Muslim fighting Thursday that left more than 140 civilians dead, according to a United Nations tally.

London had already offered France logistical support with a C-17 military aircraft.

French President Francois Hollande on Friday told African leaders it is time for their continent to take charge of its own security as a major summit went ahead against the sombre backdrop of mourning for Nelson Mandela.

Hollande unveiled a major new initiative under which France would train 20,000 African troops per year as part of efforts to give the continent a greater capacity to handle its own security problems.

But what would have been a headline-making pledge on any other day was overshadowed as the summit succumbed to the emotion that has washed over much of the world in the wake of Mandela's death.

Hollande began the two-day meeting, attended by some 40 African leaders, by delivering an emotional tribute to the hero of the anti-apartheid struggle.

"He became a global hero because he was profoundly human and profoundly good," the French Socialist leader said.

Flags above the presidential Elysee Palace flew at half-mast and, prior to a minute's silence, the leaders listened to a recording of part of Mandela's Nobel Peace prize acceptance speech.

South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, standing in for President Jacob Zuma, said Mandela would not have wanted his death to hold up business for too long.

"Last night, when the news broke out, we were saying to each other: What do we do? Do we pack our bags? Do we hide under our beds and lament his passing on?" she said.

"We agreed that this is not the way he would have loved to be celebrated.

"Africa is not free until it is totally free from insecurity, from wars, from underdevelopment, from poverty and inequality.

"This is the befitting tribute to Madiba, to... continue on this journey of discussing how we should continue working together to find African solutions to African problems."

France wants to shed image as Africa's policeman

Underlining France's desire to rid itself of its reputation for post-colonial meddling in Africa's affairs, Hollande said Africa had to develop the means to sort out its own problems.

Speaking less than 24 hours after he ordered French troops into the crisis-wracked Central African Republic (CAR), Hollande said Paris was ready to help turn tentative plans for the creation of an African rapid reaction force into reality.

France has deployed 1,200 troops to CAR in support of a larger African force that will attempt to stabilise a country in danger of being engulfed by sectarian violence which left more than 120 people dead on the streets of the capital Bangui on Thursday.

The CAR mission will be France's second military intervention in Africa this year. In January, Hollande sent more than 4,000 troops to Mali, where Islamist groups had seized control of much of the north of the country and had threatened to advance on the capital Bamako.

France has sent troops into Africa more than 20 times since the early 1960s, frequently in undisguised pursuit of its own strategic interests.

But Hollande's government insists it wants to break with that tradition and shed its role as the continent's policeman.

Paris currently has more than 5,000 troops stationed at bases across Africa and the cost of maintaining them stands at 400 million euros ($540 million) per year.

The possible creation of an African force capable of intervening in hotspots was among the issues discussed Friday, along with terrorism, piracy and trafficking.

The CAR crisis is due to be examined after the end of the main summit on Saturday afternoon.

Saturday's morning session will focus on economic issues, with France pushing a new partnership plan with Africa drafted by Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici.

With China now Africa's largest trading partner and countries like India and Brazil scaling up their presence, France is anxious to tap into the continent's rapidly growing economies.

It already has a strong presence in Africa -- which accounts for three percent of French exports -- but its share of the African market has been falling steadily since its retreat from empire in the 1960s.

More than 500 African and French business leaders were to take part in trade talks on the sidelines of the summit, which was also to discuss endangered species and climate change.


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France looks to recast Africa role at summit
Paris (AFP) Dec 05, 2013
France will seek to recast its role in Africa at a summit starting Friday, hoping to shed its image as the continent's policeman even as it prepares to send troops for the second time this year. President Francois Hollande will host some 40 African leaders in Paris for the ambitious two-day summit, as he looks to secure his nation's influence in the face of the growing clout of China and oth ... read more

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