C.Africa's neighbours float special transition fund

The Central African Republic's neighbours gathered at a summit in Brazzaville on Friday proposed the creation of a special fund to stem smouldering post-coup unrest and plan elections next year.

The final declaration issued at the end of the international meeting in the Republic of the Congo suggested a dedicated fund should be created to help Bangui through the transition process.

The "Appeal of Brazzaville" said the fund should help "finance the preparation and holding of the electoral process" promised by Central Africa's new strongman Michel Djotodia.

Djotodia and his Seleka rebel alliance ousted president Francois Bozize on March 24, the latest coup in the chronically unstable impoverished former French colony.

He has since been made interim president and vowed to organise free and fair polls at the end of an 18-month transition period.

The international contact group gathered in Brazzaville urged the 10-member Economic Community of Central African States, the African Union and foreign donors to "contribute generously to the special fund".

Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso, the lead mediator in the Central African crisis, said he had lobbied for robust international support for the country's transition.

Djotodia has vowed to respect the spirit of a January truce deal that led to a power-sharing agreement and staved off an earlier rebel push but continued unrest has marred in first weeks in charge.

Seleka ex-rebels have been accused of looting and other abuses across the country since the coup, prompting civilians to vent their exasperation with the new authorities and in some cases to form vigilantes.

Central Africa's neighbours said they were "deeply concerned by the continuing deterioration fo the security and political situation as well as by serious violations of human rights."

The landlocked country is one of the world's poorest and its vast mineral wealth remains largely untapped.

South Africa, whose military suffered its worst post-apartheid losses when 13 troops deployed there were killed during the coup, urged the region to mobilise in support of Bangui.

"We call on all those in positions of responsibility and leadership to ensure that the needless suffering of the people in the Central African Republic is brought to an end," President Jacob Zuma said at the opening of the meeting.

Zuma also said the alleged coup attempt in Chad earlier this week, when at least three people were killed, was worrying for the region as a whole.

"Reports of the attempted forceful change of government in the sister country of Chad, just across the border, a few days ago, are very disturbing," he said, adding an "urgent" solution was required to what he called "the chronic instability of the region."