News / Africa

France Pins Hope on July Talks to End CAR Violence

FILE - An elderly Muslim refugee uses crutches to walk next to a youth inside a Catholic church in Carnot, Central African Republic, April 2014.
FILE - An elderly Muslim refugee uses crutches to walk next to a youth inside a Catholic church in Carnot, Central African Republic, April 2014.
Reuters

France said on Tuesday is was pinning its hopes on regional peace talks to halt violence in Central African Republic, a day after officials said rebels and armed Muslim civilians killed at least 24 civilians in a cathedral compound.

Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, speaking during a visit to the former French colony, said its interim president was politically "isolated" as foreign troops struggled to stop recurrent violence between Muslims and Christians.

"The situation remains extremely complex and very fragile," Le Drian told RMC radio while visiting French troops stationed there after 10 were wounded in recent clashes.

Central African Republic's latest violence stems back to the takeover of the majority Christian country last year by the mostly Muslim Seleka rebel group. Christian militia sprung up in response, saying they were defending their communities against Seleka attacks.

The rebel stepped down earlier this year under intense international pressure and an interim government took over.

"I met the president [Catherine Samba-Panza] last night. She has a lot of determination and goodwill, but is a little isolated," said Le Drian.

He added there was a "ray" of hope after regional leaders agreed to bring the country's main players to the negotiating table at the end of July in the Congo Republic capital Brazzaville to try and agree a ceasefire.

"The French government is putting a lot of hope in this conference, which should help reach a more pacified solution," Le Drian said, adding that if the next few months went to plan, Paris would begin withdrawing troops by the end of the year.

The weak interim government has failed to stamp its authority on the country despite the presence of about 6,000 African Union peacekeepers and 2,000 French soldiers.

Paris had hoped for a relatively quick solution to the crisis after it intervened in December, but violence has worsened in the north.

"The task for our forces is very difficult. They are trying to stop clashes between communities who have real hatred and others that are criminal gangs," said Le Drian.

Fighters attacked St. Joseph's Cathedral compound in Bambari, 380 km (236 miles) northeast of the capital, where thousands of mostly Christians were taking refuge on Monday, said church officials.

"As of this morning, we have counted 24 dead and 32 injured," Felix Ndarata, a Red Cross official in Bambari, said. Most died on the spot while others succumbed to their injuries in hospital, he added.

A Seleka official said that the incident was retaliation for an earlier attack by Christian militia known as "anti-balaka".

Le Drian cancelled a Tuesday trip to the town after the attack, said his spokesman.

Tension has been building for weeks in Bambari, where recent fighting displaced thousands of people, including Muslims previously evacuated from the capital, Bangui.

More than a year of violence in C.A.R. has killed thousands, forced a million from their homes and sent most Muslims fleeing into northern zones closer to Chad and Sudan.

Seven French soldiers were wounded in Bambari on Thursday, and three others were wounded in a grenade attack in Bangui a day later.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid