by Staff Writers
Cape Town (AFP) April 24, 2013
South Africa's president and his deputy contradicted each other on Wednesday on plans to re-deploy troops to the troubled Central African Republic, where 13 South African soldiers were lost last month.
President Jacob Zuma said that a summit of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) he attended in Chad had verbally requested him to resend soldiers.
The request "will be considered by us when it is formally put", Zuma told Bloomberg news agency in Cape Town. "If that request comes, if we did not go, it would not be in keeping with our policy."
But in an address to parliament in the same city, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe ruled out plans to post troops again to the restive country.
"With a very straight face, clear conscience, I deny that the government is planning to send troops to the Central African Republic," Motlanthe told parliament.
Thirteen South African troops died and 27 were wounded on March 23 when they came under fire from rebel fighters near the capital Bangui.
Several thousand rebels toppled the regime of Francois Bozize the following day.
Zuma's government has since faced thorny questions about why the troops were there, amid accusations of dodgy deals with ousted Bozize.
The government has denied any wrongdoing and Motlanthe on Wednesday defended Zuma insisting he followed all the necessary parliamentary procedures before the first deployment.
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