CAR leader urges international troop crackdown

Bangui - The Central African Republic's interim president on Wednesday called on French and African troops in her country to make full use of their UN mandate to sideline rogue elements creating havoc in the troubled nation.

The escalating Christian-Muslim violence in the CAR was "being used by people who are not interested in restoring stability", interim president Catherine Samba Panza told a press conference, a day after French lawmakers extended their country's military operation in the country.

Also on Tuesday, the United Nations had warned of a potential new bloodbath in the African state riven by sectarian strife.

"I call on the Misca [African force] and [French force] Sangaris to really use the mandates they have been given by UN resolutions and wipe out these unchecked elements that poison our lives," she told the press.

Under UN resolution 2127, which was adopted in December, international forces are to restore public order and security in the former French colony.

French troops were sent to the CAR in early December to reinforce a 6 000-strong African Union force known as Misca.

France is pushing hard for the international forces to be transformed into an official UN peacekeeping force.

Limited results

Paris is also lobbying its European partners to provide more financial and logistical help, with limited results so far.

The European Union has pledged to deploy up to 1 000 troops but negotiations on which countries will provide them are dragging on in Brussels and it remains unclear when any of them would arrive in the CAR.

Samba Panza said certain politicians were trying to destabilise the country to return to power but did not name them.

"Others want to divide Central Africa" trying to bring the situation to a boil by claiming that Muslims were coming under attack, so they can provoke a backlash, she added, in a clear reference to the Muslim-dominated Seleka ex-rebels.

The CAR's Muslim minority has been blamed by many Christians for the violence that followed a March 2013 coup which saw Seleka leader Michel Djotodia become the country's first Muslim leader.

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