France will not defend CAR government against rebels
By Paul-Marin Ngoupana, Central African Republic ReutersBANGUI--France's military will not defend Central African Republic's government against advancing rebels, French President Francois Hollande said on Thursday, and regional African leaders tried to broker a cease-fire deal.
December 28, 2012, 12:21 am TWN
Insurgents on motorbikes and pickups have driven to within 75 km (45 miles) of the capital Bangui in recent weeks, threatening to end President Francois Bozize's nearly 10 years as leader of the turbulent, resource-rich country.
“If we have a presence, it's not to protect a regime, it's to protect our nationals and our interests and in no way to intervene in the internal business of a country, in this case the Central African Republic,” Hollande said, speaking on the sidelines of a visit to a wholesale food market outside Paris.
“Those days are over,” he added.
The comments came after a plea from Bozize's government for French military support to stop the SELEKA rebel coalition, which says it will topple the president unless he implements in full a previous peace deal.
CAR Foreign Minister Antoine Gambi declined to comment on Hollande's remarks in a phone interview with Reuters but said the government supported talks.
“We will not enter Bangui,” Colonel Djouma Narkoyo, the rebel spokesman, told Reuters by telephone. Previous rebel promises to stop advancing have been broken.