Hopes for reconciliation in chaos of Central African Republic
Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - 01:47
Dec. 11 - President Hollande tells French troops in CAR that their mission is to help reconcile a country that has been ''torn apart,'' as religious leaders try to mend fences. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
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Tens of thousands have lost their homes in Central African Republic. They are the lucky ones. More than 450 have been killed since last Thursday, amid fierce fighting between Muslims and Christians.
The country has been gripped by chaos since March, when mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power.
French President Francois Hollande on the ground in Central African Republic Wednesday says the biggest challenge will come after the fighting.
(SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH PRESIDENT FRANCOIS HOLLANDE SAYING:
"What is most difficult to achieve is not to put an end to a conflict or even topple a dictatorship, no. What is most difficult to do is to reconciliate a people which has been torn apart. That is your mission and we need to succeed in this mission. Succeed for the future of Central African Republic, succeed for France."
Reconciliation efforts are underway. Christian and Muslim leaders met Wednesday to try to find a way to heal.
(SOUNDBITE) (French) IMAM OUMAR KOBINE LAYAMA, SAYING:
"Today with young Christians and young Muslims we are coming together to reflect on why our house is burning down and see what they are proposing and what can we do to put out the fire."
Putting out those flames will be a challenge.
(SOUNDBITE) (French) ABOUBACAR AMADJODA, RESIDENT OF BANGUI, SAYING:
"I'm ready to forgive everyone, we can reconcile and go back to living as before. But they should stop burning our mosques. It's the last time. We've reached the limit."
France has intervened in Central African Republic more times since independence in 1960 than in any of its former colonies.
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