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CAR President Wants Arms Embargo Lifted

President Faustin-Archange Touadéra, recently elected to the Central African Republic, speaks with VOA's Jacques Aristide in New York. (VOA/ M. Besheer and C.Forcucci)

The president of the Central African Republic says he wants the United Nations to lift the arms embargo on his country.

In an interview Wednesday with VOA's French to Africa service, Faustin-Archange Touadera said the embargo, imposed in 2013, was once justified but argued, "It is no longer the case."

"There have been elections, a legitimate government was formed, as [was] the National Assembly," he said. "We are putting in place democratic institutions and we cannot have an army without weapons."

Touadera said he wants to rebuild the armed forces. "I want a national, professional and multi-ethnic army in which all Central Africans will recognize. That's our ambition."

Touadera won the presidential election in February, after three years of instability and sectarian violence sparked by the overthrow of former President Francois Bozize.

The humanitarian situation in the country is still a major concern. According to the U.N. humanitarian agency OCHA, some 2.3 million people need humanitarian assistance.

"We are at a critical moment," Touadera said. "If not careful, there are risks that we fall back in this situation. This is why we came here to advocate in Washington, with the World Bank, with USAID to request support. We want to break this cycle of crisis every 10 years to lay a solid foundation in central Africa."