France's Hollande urges U.N. action on Central African Republic

PARIS Tue Aug 27, 2013 1:28pm EDT

France's President Francois Hollande reacts as he delivers a speech during the annual Conference of Ambassadors at the Elysee Palace in Paris August 27, 2013. REUTERS/Kenzo Tribouillard/Pool

France's President Francois Hollande reacts as he delivers a speech during the annual Conference of Ambassadors at the Elysee Palace in Paris August 27, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Kenzo Tribouillard/Pool

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PARIS (Reuters) - French President Francois Hollande called on the U.N. Security Council and the African Union on Tuesday to stabilize the situation in the Central African Republic, warning it was at risk of going the way of Somalia.

The country's newly sworn-in rebel leader Michel Djotodia is struggling to control the impoverished but mineral-rich nation, which has witnessed a string of violent power changes since independence from France in 1960.

At least 10 people were killed this month in clashes across the capital between supporters of its former president and the fighters who ousted him and seized power five months ago, officials in Bangui said at the time.

"It's more than time to take action on the Central African Republic," Hollande told an annual meeting in Paris of dozens of French ambassadors posted around the world.

"This county is on the verge of Somalisation," he added. "I call on the African Union and the Security Council to take up this very grave situation."

Somalia was plunged into two decades civil war and lawlessness after the overthrow of president Siad Barre in 1991.

Senior U.N. officials warned this month that Central African Republic was on the brink of collapse and the crisis was threatening to spread beyond its borders, calling for the Security Council to fund and support an African Union peacekeeping force.

A French diplomatic source said Paris was prepared if needed to send more troops to the country, where it already maintains a small force at Bangui's airport.

(Reporting by Leigh Thomas and John Irish; Editing by Alison Williams)

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