France - CAR

Right joins left in French parliament vote for CAR military mission

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has welcomed parliament's vote to continue France's military presence in the Central African Republic. The majority of the mainstream right backed the move while not forgetting to criticise President François Hollande.

A man wounded at Bangui airport receives medical care
A man wounded at Bangui airport receives medical care Reuters/Luc Gnago

Deputies in the National Assembly voted in favour of extending the Sangaris mission, which had a six-month mandate from the UN when it began on 5 December, by four months.

Although Hollande has the power to authorise the intervention, a vote in parliament was mandatory after two months.

The vote was 428-14 with the right-wing UMP joining the Socialists and their Green allies to back the mission, while criticising Hollande's leadership of the armed forces.

Twenty-one MPs, mostly members of the hard-left Left Front, abstained.

Two members of the Left Front and 12 UMP MPs voted against.

The Senate voted 328-three with 15 abstentions.

Le Drian on Wednesday described the yes vote as "important", adding that the "consensus is a sign of support for our troops there", as well as to Interim President Catherine Samba Panza and African troops in the conflict-racked country.

France currently has 2,000 troops on the ground, in support of a 6,000-strong African force, Misca.

Le Drian conceded that not everything was going well in the CAR "but we have made a lot of progress over the last two and a half months and our forces are doing the appropirate work".

Following pressure from France, the European Union is preparing to send 1,000 troops.

Not all countries have agreed to send troops.

Italy and Germany have been reluctant, while smaller countries like Estonia and Finland will participate.

MEP Arnaud Danjean, who serves as the Chairman of the Defence Subcommittee, told RFI that some countries are reluctant to take part in an unusual mission.

Samba Panza welcomed the French parliament's vote.

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