CAR president asks France to stay till polls

2014-02-18 07:44
Central Africa's interim president Catherine Samba Panza. (Issouf Sanogo, AFP)

Central Africa's interim president Catherine Samba Panza. (Issouf Sanogo, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Bangui - The leader of the strife-torn Central African Republic asked French troops on Monday to stay until polls due in early 2015, as unabated sectarian violence wrecked Paris's hope of a quick exit.

Interim President Catherine Samba-Panza's appeal to the former colonial power came three days after France's decision to boost its contingent to 2 000 and on the eve of a review of the CAR's deadly sectarian conflict by the UN Security Council.

"The interim president told us that they should stay until the elections, that is to stay until early 2015," French MP Elisabeth Guigou said in the capital Bangui.

When France launched operation Sangaris in December to prevent mass sectarian killing, President Francois Hollande envisioned a short deployment.

On Saturday however, with a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Muslims in full swing, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian admitted that the French operation could last "longer than planned".

The French parliament is due to vote on 25 February on whether the 2 000 troops deployed in Central Africa can stay longer than their initial mandate, which expires in April.

The right-wing opposition has asked for clarity on the operation's goals but stopped short of calling for an early withdrawal.

"France cannot handle everything on its own," Guigou, a Hollande ally who chairs the parliament's foreign affairs committee, said after her meeting with Samba Panza.

10 000 troops needed

The European Union has pledged around 900 troops and the African Union has close to 6 000 already on the ground but the continent's mediator in the crisis said more were needed.

"To achieve a nationwide footprint we need an international contingent of at least 10,000," Denis Sassou Nguesso, the president of the Republic of Congo, told French newspaper Le Figaro in an interview.

Major EU powers such as Britain and Germany have refused to commit soldiers, and diplomats say efforts are focusing on smaller countries.

Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja said Monday that Helsinki could contribute up to 110 troops to the EU mission and criticised the slow reaction from the bloc.

"It could be something between 20 and 110... There is no decision on this yet," Tuomioja told AFP after meeting in Paris with his French counterpart Laurent Fabius.

"I would hope that in the future, the EU would be able to come together in a bit more rapid manner."

Amnesty International said last week that the mostly Christian anti-balaka vigilantes were attempting to exterminate the country's Muslim minority.

"'Ethnic cleansing' of Muslims has been carried out in the western part of the Central African Republic, the most populous part of the country, since early January 2014," Amnesty International said in a report.

The anti-balaka - "anti-machete" in the local Sango language - militias were initially self-defence groups formed in response to abuses committed by rogue ex-rebels from the mainly Muslim Seleka coalition that seized power in March 2013.

With the remnants of Seleka on the back foot since France deployed its forces two months ago, most of the ongoing violence is now blamed on the anti-balaka's attacks.

Samba Panza, a Christian who took over as interim president last month from ex-Seleka boss Michel Djotodia, has said she was "going to go to war against the anti-balaka".

French and African troops have been unable to prevent mass looting and stem the cycle of revenge attacks.

The International Federation for Human Rights said on Monday that several attacks by suspected Seleka gunmen had killed at least 22 people in the western town of Bang since 13February.

Atrocities, the fear of attacks and a lack of food have displaced a quarter of the country's population, while the United Nations and relief agencies estimate that at least two million people need humanitarian assistance.

NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

Zuma: Pray for peaceful polls

President Jacob Zuma has asked members of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God to pray for peaceful elections on 7 May.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Friday Grabouw - 11:32 AM
    Road name: N2 Eastbound
    DELAYS between Sir Lowrys Pass and Grabouw
  • Friday Cape Town - 10:14 AM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    EVENT - left lane closed between Rhodes Avenue and UCT
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Nokia C3

The Nokia C3 Features a 2+ Megapixel Camera, A2DP, Bluetooth,...

From R1175.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may find yourself putting in that extra effort on looking good and making an impression. ...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.