Central African Republic interim President Michel Djotodia is facing pressure to step down. Regional African leaders are preparing to discuss the country’s future amid continuing sectarian violence.
Political sources in CAR's capital, Bangui, along with French diplomatic sources said President Djotodia would announce his departure either at Thursday's meeting of the Economic Community of Central African States (CEEAC) in Chad's capital, N'Djamena, or shortly after the event.
This stood in contrast to a statement from a spokesman for Djotodia, who denied any such plan. But CEEAC Secretary General Ahmat Allami said the group would tell Djotodia that his transitional government was not working.
"If you are incapable, if you are powerless in the face of the situation, make way for others who can do a better job," Allami said in N'Djamena.
Djotodia was installed as interim president under a deal with regional African states last year, however, he has failed to stop the bloodshed which has raised concerns of a repeat of Rwanda's genocide in 1994.
France appeals to EU for military support
French and African troops have continuously struggled to halt largely religious violence between Muslim Seleka rebels and Christian militias. More than 1,000 people have died and up to a million have been displaced in the sectarian fighting. Tens of thousands have sought refuge at a makeshift camp at the airport in the capital, Bangui.
France has urged the European Union to do more to bolster the 1,600 troops it deployed to CAR last month. EU officials are scheduled on Friday to discuss sending up to 1,000 troops to the west of the country or the capital. However, there are doubts over how much support the EU will give to a military mission in CAR.
France is attending Thursday's meeting as an observer. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said there was an urgent need to get the state working again. "We're not here to give the thumbs up or down, but there are difficulties with the current team," Fabius told the French Senate before leaving for the summit. "It's not for us to decide this, but there is a difficult political situation and all those who are or who will be in power must prepare the elections."
Thursday's summit in N'Djamena would discuss the various options including allowing the president of a National Transitional Council to take over. Another option would be to allow Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye to run the country until elections, due by the end of the year.
A new transitional team could also be created to stabilise the Central African Republic, but this could be a lengthy and risky process.
The AFP news agency said the presidents of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Gabon, who are mediating in the crisis, are scheduled to discuss CAR's political transition in Bangui on January 11.
lw/msh (AFP, Reuters)