Strifetorn Central African Republic names new PM

BANGUI Sat Jan 25, 2014 2:02pm EST

Newly parliamentary-elected interim President of the Central African Republic Catherine Samba-Panza walks into the National Assembly prior to her swearing-in ceremony in the capital Bangui January 23, 2014. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

Newly parliamentary-elected interim President of the Central African Republic Catherine Samba-Panza walks into the National Assembly prior to her swearing-in ceremony in the capital Bangui January 23, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Siegfried Modola

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BANGUI (Reuters) - Central African Republic's new interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has named Andre Nzapayeke, a former official of the African Development Bank, as prime minister, state radio said on Saturday.

Samba-Panza, who took office two days ago, is seeking to build an interim government to restore order to the former French colony after months of sectarian violence that has left thousands dead or homeless.

The mineral-rich country descended into chaos last March when Muslim armed groups known as Seleka seized power in a coup, unleashing a wave of killing and looting.

That triggered revenge attacks by Christian militia known as "anti-balaka", or anti-machete, and fighting has escalated in recent days despite the presence of about 1,600 French troops and 5,000 African Union peacekeepers.

On Saturday, local Red Cross president Pastor Antoine Mbao Bogo said his staff had recovered four bodies in Bangui.

Youths wandered the streets armed with machetes and clubs in the mostly Muslim Miskine neighborhood, a Reuters witness said.

On Friday, Muslim former minister Joseph Kalite was hacked to death by machete-wielding militiamen in Bangui. At least nine others were killed when bands of people, some of them Christian groups, attacked and looted shops, witnesses said.

The violence has killed more than 2,000 since December, and forced about a million people - nearly a quarter of the population - to flee their homes.

(Reporting by Paul-Marin Ngoupana and Emmanuel Braun; Writing by Emma Farge; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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