PARIS — Central African Republic Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye Thursday pleaded for French military intervention into his violence-ridden nation as soon as the U.N. issues a green light.
The U.N. Security Council was due to vote later Thursday on a resolution authorizing thousands of African and French troops to end anarchy in the Central African Republic, where mass killings have triggered fears of genocide.
“Given the urgency, my desire is that the intervention happens as soon as possible, immediately after the resolution,” Tiangaye — who is in Paris for a major Africa summit that kicks off Friday — told AFP in an interview.
France already has 600 troops in its former colony and on Thursday 250 of them were deployed to the center of the capital city, Bangui, following deadly gun violence overnight.
Another 600 French troops are expected to come in over the weekend to back up a 2,500-strong African MISCA force already on the ground.
The CAR descended into chaos after the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted the president in a coup in March, with Muslim and Christian groups fighting each other and tens of thousands of terrified people taking refuge in churches and mosques, fearing sectarian attacks.
Reports have described a litany of horrors, with security forces and militia gangs razing villages, carrying out public execution-style killings and perpetrating widespread rape.
In the latest bout of violence, gunfire erupted in Bangui overnight, killing several people, according to aid workers on the scene.
The U.N. resolution, which envoys say is certain to be passed unanimously, also orders an arms embargo against the huge, impoverished nation.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said France would deploy the new troops after Thursday’s vote, as soon as President Francois Hollande gives the order.
He added the intervention was likely to kick off “in the coming days.”
Tiangaye said international forces would likely be able to quickly secure Bangui, but emphasized that troops had to go to other parts of the country where massacres are being committed without witnesses.
The draft resolution highlights the “total breakdown in law and order” in the state which, it adds, risks “degenerating into a countrywide religious and ethnic divide, with the potential to spiral into an uncontrollable situation.”
The council will give the French-backed African force a 12-month mandate and the right to use “all necessary measures” to restore order. The African troop contingent is scheduled to rise to 3,600.
United Nations leader Ban Ki-moon has warned that up to 9,000 troops could be needed if the crisis blows up and a full U.N. force has to take over.
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