Parliament Authorizes African Mission ({{commentsTotal}})

Parliament approved a law that allows Estonia to send up to 55 soldiers to the Central African Republic.

The mission will have one rotation, lasting four months, Parliament said on Wednesday evening.

Mati Raidma, the head of the National Defense Committee, said that all soldiers will be volunteers.

Opposition MP Marianne Mikko said her party, the Social Democrats, was against the deployment. Sending Estonian troops after a request by France is not a show of solidarity, she said, and a wider strategy for Africa is also lacking.

The Center Party said they are not for or against the motion. Kadri Simson said that it is a EU mission, but Estonia is not a military superpower with the capability of sending many troops abroad.

Heavy fighting erupted near the airport in Central African Republic's capital of Bangui on Wednesday, as Christian militia fighters tried to block the evacuation of Muslims and disrupted a visit by a top United Nations aid official, witnesses told Reuters.

The fighting was the latest episode in a cycle of religious violence that has displaced 1 million people from the former French colony and killed at least 2,000. About 6,000 African and 1,600 French peacekeepers have so far failed to halt the conflict. Paris has warned the crisis risks degenerating into genocide.

The exact date when Estonian troops arrive in the troubled nation is yet to be determined.