27 Nov 2013

France sends extra troops Central African Republic

8:44 pm on 27 November 2013

France has confirmed it is sending 1000 extra troops to help restore order in the Central African Republic, which has been in turmoil since rebels seized power in March.

France is pushing for a resolution in the United Nations Security Council that would boost an African Union peacekeeping force of 2500 troops.

Senior UN and French officials have warned that a cycle of violence between the Muslim minority, which is now in power, and the Christian majority could become a genocide.

The BBC reports an estimated 460,000 people - 10% of the population - have fled their homes. About 40,000 have sought refuge at a Catholic mission in Bossangoa.

France, the former colonial power, currently has about 400 soldiers stationed in Bangui. Their mission is to protect French nationals.

On Tuesday, Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced that France would send another 1000 troops for up to six months. "We cannot have a country fall apart like that," he told Europe 1 radio.

The rebels - known as the Seleka - have replaced President Bozize with their own commander, Michel Djotodia.

The BBC reports armed gangs, mainly former Seleka rebels, who are mostly Muslim, now control most of the landlocked country. Some are mercenaries from Chad and the Darfur region of Sudan.

Mr Djotodia has formally disbanded the rebels and integrated of them into the army.

''A country in the heart of Africa is descending into complete chaos before our eyes," UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson said on Monday. "The situation requires prompt and decisive action."