CAR conflict: President Djotodia 'offers peace talks'

Michael Djotodia, 8 December 2013
Image caption President Michel Djotodia is reported to have offered an amnesty to Christian militias

The Central African Republic's President Michel Djotodia has offered to speak to the leaders of Christian militias to resolve the worsening sectarian conflict, reports say.

Speaking to French RFI radio, he said he was ready to "extend his hand".

A former rebel leader, Mr Djotodia became the Christian majority country's first Muslim leader after a coup in March.

Hundreds of people have been killed in violence since the start of December.

Contacts have already taken place between Mr Djotodia and the militias, known as the anti-balaka, RFI quotes his office as saying.

"They are not enemies. They are our brothers," he says in the interview and suggests they could have a role in government.

His comments come a day after the African Union authorised increasing the number of troops deployed in the Central African Republic (CAR) to 6,000.

The AU troops, along with some 1,600 from France, are attempting to restore order and disarm the militia which now control much of the country.

CAR descended into sectarian conflict after Mr Djotodia ousted President Francois Bozize.

Mr Djotodia's former mainly Muslim rebel alliance, known as Seleka, has now been officially disbanded but its fighters remain at large and are accused of atrocities against Christians.

The Christian self-defence militias sprung up in response.

More than 500 people have been killed in the capital alone in the past week and an estimated 10% of the CAR's 4.6 million people have fled their homes.

More than 40,000 people have gathered at Bangui's airport seeking security but in unsanitary conditions.

Aid agencies have warned that the humanitarian situation is rapidly deteriorating.

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