France criticises CAR leader Djotodia after government reshuffle

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 16, 2013 10:03 AM
France criticises CAR leader Djotodia after government reshuffle

PARIS (Reuters) - France on Monday criticized the dismissal of three ministers by the interim leader of the Central African Republic as having broken the agreement on how the transitional government would work and said the move could trigger sanctions.

Michel Djotodia, in charge of the former French colony since seizing power in March, dismissed three members of his government this weekend following a wave of Muslim-Christian clashes which have left hundreds dead.

Djotodia has lost control of his former fighters, whose abuses have sparked the creation of Christian militia forces. Under the terms of a U.N. resolution on December 5, France has deployed 1,600 troops to try to stop the violence.

"France is concerned by the dismissal of three ministers ... without the sign-off of the Prime Minister," as agreed in a pact signed in January, the foreign ministry's deputy spokesman, Vincent Floreani, said in a statement.

Djotodia had said he would respect the terms of the January agreement signed in Gabon's capital Libreville by rebels, civil society and then-President Francois Bozize that laid out the framework for a transitional government.

Floreani said the move could be seen to be likely to cause more instability, which under the terms of the U.N. resolution was grounds for sanctions to be applied.

The transition period for CAR, a diamond-rich landlocked country with a history of instability since independence in 1960, was originally set to last until 2015. Paris is now seeking earlier elections, however.

(Reporting by John Irish; Writing by Emma Farge; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)