US urges new C. Africa leaders to restore peace

The United States Friday called for the Central African Republic to ensure the country's new leadership works to restore peace and end a wave of sectarian violence.

Speaking after President Michel Djotodia resigned, a State Department official said there should now be "a transparent, inclusive process" to select a new president.

Central African Republic's National Transition Council "should ensure that the new leadership is committed to restoring security for the people of CAR and holding elections no later than February of 2015," said spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

Djotodia and Prime Minister Nicolas Tiengaye stepped down after pressure from regional leaders during a summit in Chad, in news that triggered an outpouring of joy in Bangui.

The country had plunged into chaos after rebels from the Seleka movement seized power from Francois Bozize in March last year and installed Djotodia as the first Muslim president of the majority-Christian country.

Candidates to replace Djotodia have yet to emerge, but the interim parliament is due hold a special session Monday to choose a successor.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is to meet with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in Paris on Sunday to discuss the latest situation in Central African Republic, a State Department official said.

The United States has sought to support French and African Union military efforts to end the violence, which has led almost a million people, out of a population of 4.6 million, to flee their homes.