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Central African PM urges immediate deployment of French troops

Source: Reuters - Thu, 5 Dec 2013 05:05 PM
Author: Reuters
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By Daniel Flynn

PARIS, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Central African Republic's Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye urged the immediate deployment of French troops and an African peacekeeping force (MISCA) following the approval of a U.N. resolution on Thursday.

Tiangaye said heavy fighting in the riverside capital Bangui on Thursday followed an organised attempt by supporters of former president Francois Bozize to topple the transitional government. He said the violence had left dozens dead and hundreds injured.

"What I demand of the international community, once the resolution is adopted, is to act immediately, that is to say deploy the MISCA and French forces to stabilise the situation," he told Reuters in an interview in Paris.

He spoke moments before the U.N. Security Council unanimously authorized French and African troops to use force to protect civilians. An arms embargo was imposed on the country and the Council asked the United Nations to prepare for a possible peacekeeping mission.

The landlocked nation of 4.6 million people at the heart of Africa was plunged into chaos when mostly Muslim Seleka fighters toppled Bozize in March. That unleashing a wave of tit-for-tat inter-communal violence which interim President Michel Djotodia - Seleka's leader - has been powerless to quell.

A Reuters witness and an aid worker said at least 105 people were killed in the fighting between Seleka fighters and gunmen loyal to Bozize. Many were civilians.

"This was not just inter-religious fighting: it was a fight to seize power. Its targets were political and military," Tiangaye said. "It has been established beyond doubt that elements close to Bozize were behind this coup." (Editing by Mark John)

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