Europe will support CAR effort: Hollande

Paris - President Francois Hollande voiced confidence on Tuesday that Europe would back French efforts to end the unprecedented sectarian violence in the Central African Republic.

France sent in troops more than a month ago to its mineral-rich but impoverished former colony after a coup fuelled more instability in the notoriously volatile nation and led to violence pitting Christians against Muslims.

File photo: A boy wears a holiday mask as he and other children hang around a group of French soldiers from an armored personnel carrier, posted at an intersection, in Bangui. Credit: AP

“We have not finished our task, we have to continue it but in a very different context,” he said.

France has sent 1 600 troops to the Central African Republic and wants an African Union force, currently some 4,000-strong, to pick up the baton.

He said “Europe will come” to France's aid and that future humanitarian and security operations “could be decided” on January 20 by the European Union.

Ten months of violence have displaced a fifth of the country's population and the inter-religious flare-up has killed more than 1,000 people in the past month alone, despite the foreign military intervention.

Hollande also hailed the success of the French military intervention in Mali last year to drive out Islamist rebels who had seized the northern half of the country.

“It was a victory against terrorism, a victory for democracy, a victory for development,” he said.

He said 800 million euros ($1 billion) of the three billion pledged by the international community to help Mali get back on the rails had already been collected and was being “used to help Malians.”