Voice of America (Washington, DC)

28 February 2014

Central African Republic: Hollande - France Seeks to Preserve Unity

Photo: Till Muellenmeister/IRIN
Anti - Balaka fighters at Bangui´s estate PK9, waiting to attack Muslim IDP convoys passing along the road.

French President Francois Hollande visited the Central African Republic on Friday, his second trip to the war-torn country in the past three months.

France has about 2,000 troops in its former colony, trying to stop sectarian violence that has recently forced tens of thousands of Muslims to flee their homes.

Meeting with French soldiers in the capital, Bangui, Hollande said a main goal of the mission was to prevent the partition of the CAR.

While in Bangui, Hollande is expected to meet with the CAR's transitional president, Catherine Samba-Panza.

The French parliament voted this week to extend the country's mission in the CAR, amid warnings from the U.N. that the largely Christian "anti-Balaka" militias are hunting Muslims and prompting many to leave the country.

The militias formed last year after the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels overthrew the president.

Rights groups and CAR officials have urged France and African Union peacekeepers to do more to halt continuing violence in Bangui and outlying areas.

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