French President Francois Hollande says the country's mission is formally over in Central African Republic after the former colonizer's military spent more than two years trying to stabilize the highly volatile country.

Hollande made the announcement Friday on a brief visit to the capital of Bangui before heading on to Nigeria.

France has long had a military presence in Central African Republic, and French forces upped their presence after major sectarian violence erupted in late 2013.

While Operation Sangaris is credited with saving countless lives, the French mission also has been tarnished by horrific allegations of sexual violence against children.

French authorities say they are conducting investigations into the reports and have vowed to punish anyone found responsible. About 600 French soldiers still remain in Central African Republic.