Sunday, February 28, 2016

South Africa's Zuma Withdraws Troops From Sudan's Darfur Region
South Africa's President Jacob Zuma attends the opening ceremony of the 26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) at the AU headquarters in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 30, 2016. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri


South Africa will withdraw its troops from peacekeeping operations in Sudan's Darfur region, President Jacob Zuma's office said on Wednesday.

Zuma's office also announced on Wednesday that elected officials will receive salary increases of 4.4 percent, compared with inflation of more than 6 percent in Africa's most industrialized economy, the presidency said on Wednesday.

South African troops joined one of the world's largest peacekeeping forces five years after the conflict in Darfur began, but the force has been dogged by allegations by Western powers that it has not done enough to protect civilians and withheld information on the scale of violence.

"Members of the South African National Defence Force were employed in Darfur in 2008 as part of the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). The termination will take effect from 01 April 2016," the president's office said in a statement.

The measures come at a time when South Africa's economy is struggling, and government finances are under strain.

The presidency said that the below inflation increase of 4.4 percent for political office bearers nationally and in the provinces for 2015/16 were "in line with the current economic climate."

Presidential spokesperson Bongani Majola however said the troops withdrawal had more to do with the completion of the mission than with belt tightening by South Africa.

(Reporting by TJ Strydom; Editing by James Macharia)

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