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C. African Republic to bring forward elections to 2014- PM

Source: Reuters - Thu, 19 Dec 2013 04:08 PM
Author: Reuters
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* Presidential vote originally planned for 2015

* Amnesty says nearly 1,000 killed in two days

* France has voiced criticised of interim leader (Adds Amnesty International, details)

By Bate Felix

BANGUI, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Central African Republic will bring forward presidential elections to next year, Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye said on Thursday, bowing to pressure from former colonial power France to speed up a transition after a March coup.

Interim President Michel Djotodia, leader of the Seleka rebel group that seized the capital Bangui in March, was set to remain in office until 2015 under a deal hammered out with regional African powers.

After talks in Bangui with the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Powers on Thursday, Tiangaye said that members of a new national electoral authority would be sworn in by early next week.

"They will be in charge of preparation and organisation of the election, which will take place in 2014," he said.

France deployed troops to the resource-rich country this month in an attempt to halt a wave of killings between mostly Muslim Seleka and anti-Christian defence militias.

Rights group Amnesty International said on Thursday that Seleka had killed nearly 1,000 people in the capital alone over two days in retaliation for an attack by Christian militias on Dec. 5. Sixty bodies of Muslims were also found, it added.

France has been openly critical of Djotodia's government. It warned that the dismissal of three ministers last week was a violation of an agreement covering the transition period. (Reporting by Bate Felix; Writing by Emma Farge; Editing by Daniel Flynn)

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