The resignations may provide a fresh start to peace efforts and
the violence had eased by daybreak on Saturday. But, highlighting
security fears, the United Nations stepped up flights out for
foreigners and African governments have already evacuated nearly
30,000 of their citizens caught up in the violence.
President Michel Djotodia and Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye quit
on Friday under intense international pressure after they failed to
halt months of inter-religious violence that has driven 1 million
people, a quarter of the country's population, from their homes.
Thousands of people took to the streets of Bangui, the country's
crumbling riverside capital, to celebrate the departure of Djotodia,
who was swept to power by mainly Muslim rebels, known as Seleka,
Abuses by Seleka forces had led to the creation of Christian
self-defense militia and cycles of killings that evoked memories of
Rwanda's genocide 20 years ago.
African and French peacekeepers reported overnight clashes between
Seleka fighters and the Christian militia in Bangui.
"But I can confirm that a good part of the shooting was warning
shots from us to disperse looters who were targeting Muslim homes
and shops," an officer in the African peacekeeping mission said,
asking not to be named.
The local Red Cross said it had collected three bodies from the
streets after violence overnight.
"We don't understand why we keep killing each other, looting and
sowing destruction amongst civilians, even after the politicians
people wanted out had stepped down," said Ahamat Deliriss, vice
president of the Islamic Council.
"Mosques in the Petevo, Yapele and Bimbo neighborhoods were
destroyed. It is a shame," he said.
The streets of Bangui were largely quiet on Saturday.
colonial power France, which had sought to stay out of the latest
crisis in a country where it has often intervened, dispatched
hundreds of soldiers last month to bolster a beleaguered African
peacekeeping force as killings spiraled.
[to top of second column]
Yet violence has continued, killing 1,000 in December. French and
Chadian troops were among the victims and international pressure
mounted on Djotodia to step aside at an emergency summit hosted by
neighboring Chad this week.
Alexandre-Ferdinand Nguendet, the head of Central African Republic's
(CAR) transitional assembly (CNT), is officially in charge of the
country until the body can select a new leader to guide CAR to
elections, which are due later this year.
Even with 1,600 French and some 4,000 African peacekeepers on the
ground, security is precarious.
The International Organisation for Migration on Saturday began
airlifting stranded foreigners out of the country, where 60,000
people from neighboring countries have asked to leave.
Some 27,000 people, mainly from Mali, Senegal, Niger and Chad, have
already been evacuated by their governments.
Tensions are running high among those who will remain.
"They (Muslims) killed us, looted and mistreated us. Now it is time
for pay back," said Igor Moumini, a resident in the Sica 2
(Additional reporting by Emmanuel Braun in Bangui and David Lewis in
Dakar; writing by David Lewis; editing by Louise Ireland)
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