Paris - The initial six-month mandate for French troops trying to quell deadly unrest in the Central African Republic is "likely" to be extended, France's defence minister said in an interview on Thursday.
"It's likely," Jean-Yves Le Drian told French radio when asked if the mandate would be extended two months after the United Nations Security Council authorised French and African troops to intervene in the strife-torn country.
"We have a six-month mandate from the United Nations. After that, it's renewable. At the end of the day, there must be an actual UN mission, which means peacekeepers coming.
"Otherwise this country, which is subject to regular atrocities, risks falling into chaos and it's very dangerous for a country in central Africa - near risk areas like the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes - to collapse."
The United Nations gave France and African troops the green light to intervene on 5 December, and Paris has since deployed 1 600 troops to a country beset by sectarian violence between Muslims and Christians.