Central Africa interim leader to step down Thursday: sources

Central African Republic's President Michel Djotodia sits during a conference in Bangui December 8, 2013. REUTERS/Herve Serefio

BANGUI/PARIS (Reuters) - Central African Republic’s interim President Michel Djotodia is due to step down at a summit of regional leaders on Thursday amid frustration at his failure to quell religious violence in his nation, diplomatic and political sources said.

“It’s finished for him now,” said a source close to Djotodia, who said he was due to step aside at the summit on Thursday in the Chadian capital N’Djamena.

A senior French diplomatic source and political sources in Bangui said Central African leaders led by Chad’s Idriss Deby had run out of patience with Djotodia, who seized power in March at the head of the Seleka rebels.

French and African troops deployed in the country have struggled to stop tit-for-tat violence between Muslim Seleka rebels, who seized power in March, and Christian militias. More than 1,000 people died in clashes in December.

Seleka leader Djotodia, installed as interim president under a deal with regional African states, has been powerless to halt the bloodshed, which has displaced some 1 million people and stirred fears of a repeat of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.

“A political stabilization of the country is imperative,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in an interview with Le Parisien newspaper earlier on Wednesday.

He declined to answer when asked if Djotodia could stay as president, saying: “It is envisaged that the countries of the region will meet on Thursday to take decisions.”

The meeting will discuss the various options for continuing the transition. The presidents of Congo Republic and Gabon, who are mediating in the crisis, would then convene a meeting to discuss the transition in Bangui on January 11, diplomatic sources said.

Reporting by Paul-Marin Ngoupana in Bangui, John Irish in Paris and Aboa in Abidjan; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Alison Williams