AP Interview: African leader hails French troops

Associated Press
Prime Minister of the Central African Republic Nicolas Tiangaye speaks during an interview with The Associated Press, in Paris, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, after the French President Francois Hollande announced he would double the number of troops in the former French colony, possibly within hours. The U.N. Security Council authorized an intervention force to prevent a bloodbath between Christians and Muslims, as fighting swept through the capital of Central African Republic on Thursday, leaving nearly one hundred people dead and posing the biggest threat yet to the country's new government. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
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PARIS (AP) — The prime minister of the Central African Republic on Thursday welcomed a French military intervention into his country, hours after deadly assaults left dozens dead in a capital descending toward anarchy.

After the U.N. Security Council approved a resolution Thursday authorizing force to end the violence, French President Francois Hollande announced he would double the number of troops in the former French colony to about 1,200, possibly within hours.

In his first reaction to the French move, Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye told The Associated Press he sees it "very positively" and that he had wanted a "firm reaction from France." He called for fast action "to put an end to this violence and these atrocities."

Tiangaye, who is in Paris for a summit of dozens of African leaders hosted by Hollande, was optimistic that the U.N.-sanctioned intervention involving French and African Union troops will help ease the bloodshed that claimed nearly 100 lives Thursday.

"I think that (the African Union-led force known as) MISCA and France will be able to re-establish security very quickly," he told The Associated Press. "The unrest reigns all across the country. But the priority today is to get back security in Bangui where there are clashes."

Tiangaye expressed dismay on learning that his home had been attacked in the fighting.

"It's not right that as a head of an institution, my home can be attacked and pillaged by elements of the (rebel coalition) Seleka," he said.

Tiangaye said he thought that while the 1,200 troops would be sufficient to secure Bangui, "when it's necessary to plan securing the country's other regions, this number of troops will be insufficient."

The U.N. resolution authorizes French forces, for a temporary period, "to take all necessary measures" to support the AU-led force, whose troop numbers are expected to rise from about 2,500 to 3,500.

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