French defense chief trying to keep troops in CAR


French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Thursday that the initial six-month mandate authorized by the United Nations will probably have to be extended.

The mandate, which expires in May, was issued by the UN on December 5, giving the green light to French and African troops to be deployed and intervene in the country.

The French government has dispatched thousands of troops to the Central African Republic since then, but they have appeared to be unable to prevent inter-communal clashes that erupted after Christian militias attacked the mostly Muslim Seleka group.

Seleka fighters had managed to oust the previous government under President Francois Bozize in March 2013.

Figures show more than 1,000 people were killed in the country in January alone.

The killings come as Catherine Samba-Panza, the interim president, says she hopes to restore order within a month.

The country plans to hold elections in February next year.

The French minister claimed that his troops had helped to lower tensions and that the situation was improving day by day.

“The situation in Bangui has more or less stabilized,” Le Drian said. “In the rest of the country it is much more complicated.”

Last month, the European Union decided to endorse the French-African mission in the Central African Republic by deploying around 500 troops there.[Press TV]