Dakar -French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le’ Drian said government would resume withdrawing its troops from Central African Republic following the forth coming elections in December.
The minister speaking on the sidelines of a security forum in Dakar expressed the hope that the elections would restore democratic rule following more than two years of inter-religious violence.
Interim authorities announced a time table on Tuesday for the long-delayed presidential and parliamentary polls, fixing the first round of voting for Dec. 27 and a second round, if needed, for Jan. 31.
They would be preceded by a referendum on Dec. 13 on changes to the constitution, according to a government decree.
The minister said France began withdrawing some of its troops, which numbered around 2,000 at the peak of the mission known as Sangaris, earlier this year.
Le’ Drian said that a recent surge in violence had forced France to put the withdrawal on hold.
“We decided to stop the process of winding down Sangaris to allow our force to support MINUSCA during the electoral period.
“Then it will be up to the new authority to decide how to organise its own army,’’ he said.
Paris sent soldiers to its former colony in late 2013 in an attempt to stem the bloodshed, which began after the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power earlier in the year provoking a backlash from Christian anti-balaka militias.
Militia violence and inter-religious reprisal attacks have killed around 90 people in the capital Bangui since late September.
French troops have been instrumental to containing the situation. Last month they helped halt a column of Seleka fighters that was advancing on Bangui. (Reuters/NAN)