20 January 2014

Central African Republic: Parliament Decides On New Leader Amid Fatal Clashes

The situation remains volatile in the Central African Republic as clashes continue in the capital, Bangui. The Red Cross says it found 11 bodies ... ( Resource: Central African Republic Remains Volatile, Aid Running Low )

The Red Cross has said dozens were killed in renewed violence in the Central African Republic. The trouble comes as parliament tries to elect a new interim leader, and the EU mulls its response.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Sunday it had buried 50 bodies within the previous two days.

"In the past 48 hours, teams from the ICRC and the CRCA (a local Red Cross branch) have buried around 50 bodies," the ICRC said in a statement. There was violence across the country on Friday and Saturday, with the children's charity Save the Children claiming a grenade attack Friday on a truck convoy carrying Muslims fleeing to the northwest had killed 23 people.

News of the deaths came as CAR lawmakers prepared to vote for an interim president, with eight candidates said to be in the running.

Contenders include the mayor of the capital Bangui, Catherine Samba Panza, as well as two sons of former presidents, Sylvain Patasse and Desire Kolingba.

The successful candidate will fill the place of Michel Djotodia, who stepped aside last month under intense international pressure. Djotodia, who was installed by the mainly Muslim rebel force Seleka, was blamed for a failure to stem rising sectarian bloodshed, which the United Nations has warned could turn into genocide.

EU neighbors ponder help for France

EU foreign ministers were on Monday expected to discuss sending troops to the country to lend support to French and African soldiers who are seeking to restore order.

French President Francois Hollande in December asked for a show of solidarity from fellow EU member states, but so far only Estonia has offered to send any troops to the country. Britain, along with Germany, has offered logistical support but has repeatedly made it clear that it will not send soldiers.

Poland, the Czech Republic, Belgium and Spain are believed to be the next most likely to contribute troops.

Ahead of the meeting, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that Europe should not abandon France in its efforts to help.

Currently there are some 1,600 French and 4,000 African troops in CAR under a UN mandate to end violence between Christian militias and former Seleka rebels.

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