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Hundreds March in CAR in Support of Army

  • Reuters

FILE - U.N. peacekeeping soldiers on patrol in the city of Bangui, Central African Republic, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015.

FILE - U.N. peacekeeping soldiers on patrol in the city of Bangui, Central African Republic, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2015.

Hundreds of people marched through the capital of Central African Republic on Wednesday, including members of the country's transitional council, to press for the national army to be rearmed, a Reuters witness said.

The march was guarded by security forces and U.N. peacekeepers and is the latest sign of pressure for the restoration of the army, which was sidelined when mainly Muslim rebels from the Seleka group took power in 2013.

President appeals to MINUSCA

Interim President Catherine Samba-Panza appealed to the U.N. mission (MINUSCA) on Monday to return weapons confiscated from the army to allow it to help keep the peace. She became president in Jan. 2014 when the Seleka left power under international pressure.

She said U.N. peacekeepers had failed to halt violence and called on the United Nations and International Criminal Court to sanction political leaders behind the unrest.

Around 90 people have been killed in the capital since late September in attacks on civilians by mainly Muslim and mainly Christian militia groups. The unrest contributed to a decision by authorities to delay presidential and parliamentary elections to Dec. 13 and they may be pushed back again if the violence persists.

Pope's visit

The violence has caused Pope Francis to hint that a trip to Bangui he planned for Nov. 28-29 could be cancelled.

The majority Christian country plunged into chaos when the Seleka seized power, prompting reprisals by mainly Christian militias called the anti-balaka. The national army was disarmed after soldiers were accused of participating in anti-balaka violence.

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