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Africa

Fabius announces European troops to be sent to CAR - but where from?

media French soldiers patrol on Boy-Rabe, a northern district of Bangui, 17 December, 2013 Reuters/Alain Amontchi

French Foreign Affairs Minister seems to have jumped the gun in assuring the French parliament that some of France's European partners would soon be sending troops to the Central African Republic (CAR), where France is leading UN-mandated efforts to restore peace after an explosion of militia-led violence.

"Bearing in mind measures taken by France, I think I can confirm that we will soon have ground troops provided by our European colleagues," Fabius told the National Assembly on Tuesday.

But he gave no details and no European country would say that it had agreed to send its soldiers to the strife-torn former French colony.

A claim from an anonymous Belgian military source that Brussels would be sending 150 soldiers was denied by others almost as soon as it had been made.

And the UK, Germany and Poland, who all say they support the French intervention, made it clear that they were considering no such move.

French officials say they have asked for military support and Fabius is to raise the question at an EU summit on Thursday and Friday, leading to speculation that his statement to parliament was designed to help other European countries make their minds up quickly.

In the CAR itself diplomats are trying to resolve a political crisis sparked by interim President Michel Djotodja's sacking of three ministers.

Representatives of countries charged with following up the Libreville agreement on the coutry's future met Djotodja when he met them on Monday but agreed to meet Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye and speaker Alexandre Ferdinand Nguendet, who oppose the move.

"The country is already in crisis. The president shouldn't be creating new problems," commented Luc Guéla of one of the country's main political parties, the MPLC.

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