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We need cash - CAR foreign minister

03 December 2013, 06:37

Bangui - The Central African Republic needs foreign financial assistance as well as troops, its prime minister told AFP on Monday as French forces deployed in a bid to halt spiralling violence.

Speaking in Bangui before flying to Paris for a 40-nation France-Africa summit, Nicolas Tiangaye said more than just military help was needed to pull his country back from the brink.

The impoverished nation has been sliding into chaos since a March coup, with abuses by ex-rebels and growing sectarian violence prompting warnings that a genocide could be in the making.

"The humanitarian and security situation remains alarming.... That's why we are counting on the international community... to achieve greater territorial control," Tiangaye said.

France dispatched 200 reinforcements on Sunday to bring its force there to 600 troops, while the African-led MISCA operation, which has around 2 500 soldiers on the ground, was also beefing up.

The CAR's new ruler Michel Djotodia has struggled to rein in members of the now dissolved rebel alliance that swept him to power nine months ago, and wields little influence outside the capital.

Neighbours and Western donors have voiced concern that the former French colony is becoming a Somalia-style "failed state" and that a major humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding.

The crisis is set to dominate the Paris summit, due to begin on Friday, but Tiangaye said his appeal would not solely focus on the security and humanitarian emergency.

"The second message will be on financial aid, because our economy is paralysed," he said. The CAR's mineral wealth is largely untapped and it is ranked one of the world's poorest and least developed countries.

Sectarian undertones

"We are going to need assistance from the international community" to help us get the country back on its feet ahead of the general election scheduled for 2015, Tiangaye said.

Western powers reluctantly recognised Djotodia after the coup but he is expected not to try to keep the job in polls to be held after an 18-month transition period.

The sectarian nature of some of the fighting that has plagued the Christian-majority country since Djotodia became its first Muslim leader has prompted fears of yet another religious civil war on the continent.

Tiangaye however sought to play down concerns and said that sectarian incidents were confined mainly to northwestern towns on the roads connecting Bangui to Chad.

"Two towns are threatened right now: Bossangoa and Bouca," where around 100 people have been killed and 40 000 displaced since September, he said.

"The government is doing everything it can to stem this crisis with sectarian undertones. I think generalisations need to be avoided," the premier said.



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