Voice of America (Washington, DC)

8 December 2013

Central African Republic: French Troops Patrol CAR Capital

Photo: Marcus Bleasdale/VII for Human Rights Watch
An injured woman is rushed to the hospital.

Relative calm was reported in the Central African Republic capital of Bangui Sunday, as hundreds of French troops patrolled the streets following violence that left more than 400 people dead.

CAR President Michel Djotodia told a news conference that fighters loyal to him would return to their barracks and leave control of security to the French. He acknowledged the difficulties in controlling the former rebels from the Seleka alliance that brought him to power.

"There are allegations that I cannot control my men. I only know those who are with me. Those who aren't, how can I control them? I am not God, I hope. I am a man like you. And this country is vast - 623,000 square kilometers (241,000 square miles)," said Djotodia.

He told journalists that France was in Bangui to support the country's transitional process to new elections slated for 2015.

"France is clear about this. It is not coming here to replace whatever; France is not coming here to disturb the transition, it is coming to support this process which has been put in place so that in a short time from now the constitutional order will be reinstated in Central African Republic," said Djotodia.

French President Francois Hollande announced Saturday that France would deploy 1,600 French troops to a United Nations-mandated force - 400 more than originally planned.

The impoverished CAR spiraled into chaos and violence after the rebel Seleka movement seized power in March, ousting President Francois Bozize.

President Djotodia's weak interim government has been unable to exert control over mostly Muslim ex-Seleka fighters, who are blamed for a surge in killings and other crimes. However, analysts say the mostly Christian armed opposition groups known as the anti-Balaka also have contributed to the violence.

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