By SAM PHIRI -
ZAMBIA has sent 750 soldiers for the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping mission in the war-torn Central African Republic (CAR).
The CAR has been rocked by religious violence which has killed thousands of people, and the country is scheduled to go for elections in July this year.
The Zambian troops, who will be part of the multidimensional United Nations peacekeeping operation dubbed MINUSCA, left the country on Thursday and are expected to be in that country for 12 months.
The departure was preceded by a colourful send-off parade at Lusaka’s Arakan Barracks last weekend where Defence
Deputy Minister Christopher Mulenga warned the soldiers against being indisciplined.
The contingent, which has been coded ZAMBATT1, is expected to carry out its mandate of providing security alongside other troops from Africa and France who were deployed in April last year following the UN Security Council Resolution.
Mr Mulenga said the Government expected nothing but high levels of professionalism and discipline from the troops during the execution of their mandate.
“As peacekeepers sent from Zambia, you are expected to keep and observe your terms of reference and please do not for any reason get entangled in the politics of the host nation,” he said.
Mr Mulenga commended the defence wings and command for working together during the preparation and pre-deployment training of the troops.
“While paying tribute to you our gallant men and women in uniform for ably representing Zambia, I will be failing in my duties if I don’t remind you of the need to be morally upright bearing in mind the families you are leaving behind,” Mr Mulenga said.
He thanked the American government through the US embassy in Zambia for the support, in form of equipment and training, rendered to the troops during their preparations for the task.
Army Commander Paul Mihova assured the Government that the troops had met the required standard for them to successfully carry out the peacekeeping mission in CAR.
He thanked Government for allowing officers to continue participating in the UN and African Union peacekeeping missions.