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Hollande: France Seeks to Preserve C.A.R. Unity

French President Francois Hollande visited the Central African Republic Friday, and pledged to help hold the war-torn country together amid a wave of sectarian violence.

Mr. Hollande met with French peacekeeping troops and C.A.R. transitional President Catherine Samba-Panza during his visit to the capital, Bangui.

He said a main goal of the French mission is to prevent the "partition" of the C.A.R., where attacks by militias known as "anti-Balaka" have forced tens of thousands of Muslims to flee their homes and neighborhoods.

France has about 2,000 troops in its former colony, working with African Union peacekeepers to disarm fighters and halt the violence.

The French parliament voted this week to extend the country's mission in the C.A.R., amid calls for rights groups and the U.N. to protect Muslim civilians.



The largely Christian anti-Balaka formed in response to a wave of killing and looting by Muslim Seleka rebels who overthrew the president a year ago.

Mr. Hollande on Friday called for an end to the sectarian violence and said certain groups must be "neutralized."

He also said life in Bangui is more normal than what he saw on his last visit to the city about three months ago.

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