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France urges replacement for Central African Republic president who resigned

Michel Djotodia had been under intense pressure from other African leaders to resign over his failure to stem deadly sectarian unrest.

Central african repbulic president resignsEnlarge
Anti-Seleka demonstrators pose with placards reading "Michel must leave", "Djotodia must leave, we want peace" as they march to Mpoko airport on January 10, 2014 in Bangui. The Central African Republic's president resigned on Friday. (ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)

The Central African Republic's interim president resigned on Friday.

Michel Djotodia had been under intense pressure from other African leaders to resign over his failure to stem deadly sectarian unrest pitting the mainly Muslim former rebels who brought him to power against Christian militias.

"Kingmaker" Deby

With Djotodia's resignation, Chad's President Idriss Deby Itno upheld a reputation as "kingmaker" over his poor neighbour.

Deby, who chaired a summit of the regional Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), was said to be angry at the impotence shown by Djotodia in the face of mounting sectarian violence that has claimed thousands of lives.

Deby summoned the whole parliament of the Central African Republic — known as the National Council for Transition — to N'Djamena to help determine the fate of Djotodia and his Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye, who also stepped down.

When all 135 lawmakers arrived by plane Thursday, African leaders ordered them to draw up a proposal on the future of their leader, who had failed to stop the violence and atrocities after coming to power in a coup last March.

Chad's chief personally convened the ECCAS summit that began Thursday and he opened it with a blunt call for "concrete and decisive action," urging the 10-nation regional body "to show solidarity and determination to pull Central Africa back from the abyss."

France urges a swift replacement

French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Friday called for the swift replacement of Michel Djotodia, the rebel-turned-president of the violence-stricken Central African Republic who has resigned.

Le Drian urged transition authorities in the country, which plunged into chaos after Djotodia seized power in a coup last March, prompting a French military intervention, to "decide as soon as possible" on a replacement.

The violence has seen more than 1,000 people killed in the last month alone, and a military intervention by French and African forces launched in December has failed to settle the situation.

"The national transition council... must implement a provisional alternative because the aim is to hold elections before the end of the year," Le Drian said on a trip to Merignac in southwest France.

The Central African Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye has also resigned.

A rebel-turned-president

Djotodia, the rebel-turned-president who allowed his country to slide into chaos and bloodshed, was swept to power as the previous regime crumbled.

Less than a year ago, Djotodia was carried to power as the first Muslim leader of the overwhelmingly Christian country in a March 24 coup that led within months to widespread and deadly sectarian unrest.

Leading a rebel coalition called the Seleka into the capital Bangui he seized the presidential palace from President Francois Bozize, who fled after 10 years in power, and proclaimed himself president.

Djotodia promised the government would be independent of religious influences and would respect the nation's various ethnic groups and faiths.

But when he dissolved the Seleka, many former rebels ran rogue and engaged in killings, rape and looting, leading to the creation of Christian self-defense militias in a nation where the two religious communities had previously lived in peace.

"I want things to improve, and quickly, so that I can leave," Djotodia said in November. "I do not want to stay in power — I am going to leave."

"You get to sleep — but we never sleep," he said. "Why hold on to something that stops you from sleeping. Sometimes you can't even think of your wife!"

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/140110/france-urges-replacement-central-african-republic-president-who-