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Regional leaders pile pressure on CAR president

  • Chadian President Idriss Deby (R) shakes hands with his counterpart from Central Africa Michel Djotodia during the special summit of the 10-nation Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) in Ndjamena on January 9, 2014. (AFP PHOTO / BRAHIM ADJI)

N’DJAMENA: African leaders met Thursday to tackle the sectarian violence ripping apart the Central African Republic, piling pressure on the country’s embattled president.

Rebel-turned-leader Michel Djotodia was summoned to Chad’s capital N’Djamena for the special summit to confront his failure to stem unprecedented sectarian violence tearing apart his resource-rich, poverty-stricken nation.

Chad’s President Idriss Deby, a powerful influence over events in the CAR, opened the meeting with a call for “concrete and decisive action” to halt the violence that has killed more than 1,000 people in the past month.

Deby, who chairs the 10-nation Economic Community of Central African States, said the group had a duty “to show solidarity and determination to pull Central Africa back from the abyss.”

The African leaders’ principal concern is the Bangui government’s failure to stem the widespread bloodshed that has broken out between mainly Muslim former rebels and self-defense militias formed by the Christian majority.

ECCAS has insisted that “regime change” is not the summit’s goal. But Secretary-General Allami Ahmat said the CAR was in a “deplorable situation,” under “transitional authorities who have proven themselves incapable, powerless even, to solve the problem.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 10, 2014, on page 11.
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