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article imageHollande: Africa must 'ensure its own security'

By Karen Graham     Dec 7, 2013 in World
On Nov. 26, France reported it was sending an additional contingent of troops to help in putting an end to the sectarian violence in Central African Republic (CAR). Continued fighting between Selaka soldiers and Christian militia has since escalated.
On Friday, French President Francois Hollande spoke with African leaders at the end of a two-day Africa-France peace and security summit at the Elysee Palace. The meeting took place as French troops were being sent to the war-torn Central African Republic to restore order. According to the BBC, over 2,000 people seeking refuge, stormed the airport at Bangui to escape from the violence.
While at the summit, Hollande promised that France would be willing to help in preparing an African rapid-reaction force, and would be willing to train up to 20,000 soldiers each year. But he tempered the promises by insisting that Africa must take charge of its own security.
Hollande wants a new military partnership between France and Africa, one of consulting, training, intelligence and equipment only. He suggested that security and economic development would come out of the partnership, but only in a "holistic" way.
Hollande talked of these pledges as French forces killed a number of fighters at the airport in Bangui, the capital, on their first day of the UN-backed deployment. At the same time, The U.K. dispatched a C-17 transport plane in support of the French, with two additional flights planned for later this month.
Making a point of allying fears that France is looking at a return to French colonial interventionist days, Mr. Hollande told African leaders a "new era was beginning," and 'Africa must take its destiny fully in hand, and to do so must take care of its security itself.''
Mr. Hollande also cited France's continuing involvement in the CAR, but said while his call may sound surprising, ''Times have changed. Relations can no longer be what they were in the past.''
South Africa's foreign minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, replied, saying that Mr. Hollande's call would have been welcomed by the late Nelson Mandela, and concluded by saying, "Africa is not free until it is totally free from insecurity, from wars, from underdevelopment, from poverty and inequality. This is the befitting tribute to Madiba, to ... continue on this journey of discussing how we should continue working together to find African solutions to African problems.''
The Central African Republic descended into chaos after a Muslim rebel group called Selaka overthrew the government in March of this year. Michel Djotodia, a selaka member was installed as president, the first Muslim leader of the majority Christian country.
France s President Francois Hollande
France's President Francois Hollande
With permission by Reuters / Thibault Camus
the Elysee Summit for Peace and Security in Africa  in Paris December 7  2013
the Elysee Summit for Peace and Security in Africa, in Paris December 7, 2013
With permission by Reuters / Thibault Camus
the Elysee Summit for Peace and Security in Africa  in Paris December 7  2013
the Elysee Summit for Peace and Security in Africa, in Paris December 7, 2013
With permission by Reuters / Thibault Camus
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