France is increasing its military presence in the Central African Republic. The Associated Press reports that after a summit in Paris on Saturday, French President François Hollande said 1,600 troops would be deployed by the end of the day and they would remain in the country until tensions between Muslim and Christian militias cool.
“The CAR has been in turmoil since Michel Djotodia ousted Francois Bozize in March and installed himself as the first Muslim leader in the Christian-majority country. The mainly Muslim Seleka rebel coalition which brought him to power has been accused of atrocities against Christians.
“At the end of a summit on Africa in Paris, French President Francois Hollande called for the establishment of an African rapid deployment force within months. Mr Hollande said Africa must ensure its own security in the future. France was ready to help with training and weapons.
“Speaking alongside Mr Hollande, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said: ‘I’m particularly grateful to all the countries contributing soldiers to Misca [Mission in the Central African Republic] and in particular to France for boosting its military support.’ ”
On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council authorized a surge in French troops. Voice of America, a news service funded by the U.S. government, reports that MISCA, the African Union peacekeeping force, is upping the number of troops it is sending to the former French colony from 2,500 to 3,600.
“Violence was reported in the capital Saturday despite an increased presence of French forces,” VOA reports. “Thousands of residents have sought shelter and protection at the Bangui airport, which is under French control. Many other civilians have sought refuge in churches.”
The CAR won independence from France in 1960.