France to restore peace in CAR within six months, Hollande
France's President François Hollande predicts that French and African troops will restore peace to the Central African Republic (CAR) within six months. In an exclusive interview with RFI he said that the number of French troops sent to the country would be increased to 1,600, 400 more than originally planned.
As French troops received a triumphant welcome on arrival in the strife-torn country, Hollande insisted that France is still a world power.
"This intervention will cost about 400-500 million euros," he told RFI. "It may seem like a lot, especially at a time when we have budget constraints and we demand sacrifices of
French people. Many might ask, what's the point? Why is France in Mali, why is France going to the Central African Republic? But we must ask ourselves questions that go beyond these numbers. What is the role of France? What is the mission of France? What is the responsibility of France? It is to be a world power."
The intervention will "demonstrate the efficacity of our forces," he declared, adding that the intervention's task is to disarm Seleka and anti-balaka militias and prepare for elections.
Hollande appeared to have little time for interim President Michel Djotodia, who was brought to power by the Seleka insurgency but called for the French intervention to put an end to the violence they have helped unleash on the country.
Hollande told RFI:
- On Mali: In response to President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita's claim that France, which sent troops to the country in January, is "forcing Mali to negotiate with an armed group", ie the Tuareg separatist MNLA, "France says that it is necessary to have dialogue and that dialogue is not conducted by weapons."
- On the murder of RFI's Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon: The killers have been identified, "They are terrorists whom we have identified through other actions," and they will be arrested.
- On RFI: All the freed French hostages whom he has met "said that they listened to RFI", with which they had a "special connection", while in the CAR today "the only radio they can listen to is yours".