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CAR Interim Leader Vows to Restore Security in Bangui

The Central African Republic's new interim president says he is taking steps to restore security in the capital, Bangui.

That city has been terrorized by six weeks of political and ethnic violence that has displaced nearly 500,000 residents.

In an interview with VOA , Alexandre Nguendet says he met Sunday with local militias which, in his words, agreed to make peace.

Mr. Nguendet said he also is creating a task force with police and security forces to restore order.

He said, "They will neutralize any individual who tries to vandalize. I swear there will be no gunshot in Bangui within a week."

Mr. Nguendet was named interim president after rebel leader-turned-president Michel Djotodia resigned Friday, after failing to stem months of chaos and violence in the CAR.

The head of the United Nations peacekeeping office in Bangui, General Babacar Gaye, said the situation is improving in the city, but he said there is still more to be done.

"Today, to summarize the situation, hope is within grasp, but not yet in our grasp."

He said there are fewer killings in Bangui than there were in December, but he said that "the hate is still there."

The latest crisis began after mostly Muslim Seleka rebels overthrew President Francois Bozize last March. Abuses by the rebels triggered the rise of Christian defense groups and a cycle of killings and violence.

The U.N. refugee agency said Monday that the number of people displaced from their homes nationwide has topped 1 million, including 86,000 who have fled to neighboring countries.

Reporter Nick Long is in the CAR capital, Bangui. He tells VOA that according to a report from the U.N. humanitarian agency, living conditions for most of the country's people are growing desperate.

"A great majority of communities are reporting that the number of meals people eat every day has dropped from three to one. Everywhere people have lost their livelihoods, and everywhere people are saying they don't have enough seeds for the next planting season. And there's a lack of clean drinking water everywhere."

Long said Bangui appeared calm Monday after unrest and looting over the weekend.

On Sunday, Mr. Nguendet appealed for calm while political leaders begin to work out a path toward new elections. A national transitional council is due to begin the process of selecting a new interim president as early as Tuesday.

The CAR has a long history of unrest since winning independence from France in 1960.

Deployments of French and African troops have not been able to stop the recent unrest, which has left more than 1,000 people dead.

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