Rwanda on Tuesday sent 700 more soldiers to the Central African Republic (CAR) to secure the main supply route connecting the capital Bangui to the border with Cameroon.
The troops were deployed following a request by the United Nations to reinforce its peacekeeping mission in the restive country, according to a statement issued by Rwanda’s Ministry of Defence.
The latest deployment comes as Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame is expected Thursday to host CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadéra, who was recently elected for his second five-year term.
Rwanda had earlier sent 1,267 troops to CAR serving under the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Central African Republic (Minusca).
UN peacekeeping operations are barred from using force except in self-defence and defence of the mandate under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.
Rwanda maintains two Infantry Battalions, a Mechanized Battle Group and a Level II Hospital in support of peacekeeping operations in CAR. Rwandan soldiers have since 2016 provided protection for President Faustin-Archange Touadéra and other top government officials in CAR.
The last deployment was in December 2020 when troops were sent to quell election violence and protect peacekeepers in CAR’s presidential election in January 2021. They were, however, not constrained by UN rules of engagement.
They were sent under a bilateral agreement on defence signed between Rwanda and the Central African Republican.
Burundi also has 744 troops serving in the Central African Republic.
On Christmas Day 2020, rebels killed three peacekeepers from Burundi, according to Minusca, highlighting just how dangerous the country was becoming towards the general election.
In November, the Security Council extended the mandate of Minusca until November 15, 2021, outlining its priorities as protection of civilians, supporting the peace process and preparing for elections.