Calm returning to Central African Republic: Hollande

12th December 2013, Comments 0 comments

French President Francois Hollande said on Thursday that security was gradually returning to Central African Republic (CAR), where France has deployed 1,600 troops to stem sectarian violence.

"The night (in the capital Bangui) was calm... But we must be very vigilant, cautious and carry out the disarmament (of militias) to the end," said Hollande, who earlier this week paid a swift visit to the former French colony.

On Tuesday, Hollande said that France's intervention was dangerous but vital to avoid a bloodbath. Two elite French soldiers have been killed in the intervention.

Bangui, where hundreds were slaughtered with clubs and machetes last week, appeared generally calm Wednesday, with residents suggesting that fear was subsiding following the weekend deployment of the French soldiers.

But France's junior development minister Pascal Canfin warned of "a real risk of civil war" in the impoverished but mineral-rich country.

CAR's interim president Michel Djotodia's Seleka rebels captured Bangui and ousted president Francois Bozize in March.

Djotodia became the country's first Muslim president, but while some Seleka members remained loyal to him, others started terrorising the population and government forces were powerless to stop them.

Hollande was speaking shortly after arriving in Brazil, which has warned Paris against succumbing to "old colonial temptations."

© 2013 AFP

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