France wants to end its military operation known as Sangaris in the Central African Republic this year, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Sunday.
“The aim is to bring Operation Sangaris to a halt. I hope this is done during 2016, with small units remaining on Central African territory as was the case beforehand,” he told French media.
Le Drian’s statement came amid new allegations which surfaced on Friday of child sexual abuse in the Central African Republic involving UN peacekeepers as well as troops serving in a European mission and in France’s own operation.
UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein described the claims as “extremely serious” and demanded they be “thoroughly and urgently investigated”.
The new cases linking EU and French troops are said to date to 2014, but have only been discovered in recent weeks as a result of a UN investigation.
Le Drian also said he hoped that the European Union would agree to train a Central African Republic armed force when the bloc’s defence ministers hold informal talks on February 3 and 4 in Amsterdam.