Protesters target French embassy in Central African Republic

 

Angry protesters carrying clubs threw rocks at the French Embassy in Central African Republic, criticising the former colonial power for failing to do more to stem a rapid rebel advance as fears grew that the insurgents aim to seize the capital.

The demonstrations began earlier in the day outside the US Embassy before about 100 protesters then took to the French Embassy, carrying pieces of cardboard with messages that read: "No to war! No to France!"

"It's France who colonised us - they should support us until the end. Unfortunately, they have done nothing. In this case, we are merely asking purely and simply that they leave our country," shouted one young demonstrator in front of the French mission in Bangui.

The protesters then began stopping cars to verify whether any foreign nationals were inside.

"These people have taken down the French flag from its pole and removed it," said Serge Mucetti, the French ambassador to Central African Republic.

"They have carried out stone-throwing in the area of the embassy and have broken windows. This kind of behaviour is unacceptable."

Air France confirmed that its once-a-week flight to Bangui turned back because of protests at the French Embassy.

The decision was made independently by Air France, and the French government did not make the request, said an airline spokeswoman.

The French foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the armed attacks, saying they "gravely undermine the peace agreements in place and the efforts of the international community to consolidate peace" in the country, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

The UN chief appealed to all parties to refrain from any acts of violence against civilian and to respect human rights, he said.

The secretary-general welcomed the conclusions of the heads of state summit of the Economic Community of the Central African States in Ndjamena, Chad, on December 21 and urged all parties to abide by the decisions "which provide a basis for a peaceful resolution of the dispute", Mr Nesirky said.

But many fear that Bangui, a city of about 600,000 people, could be the scene of a battle between government forces and the rebels. The fighters already have seized at least 10 towns, meeting little resistance from soldiers.

Rebel Colonel Djouma Narkoyo said that his forces have continued taking towns in recent days because government forces are attacking their positions.

But, he insisted via phone: "Our intention is not to take Bangui. We still remain open to dialogue."

Bangui residents were sceptical of the insurgents' intentions.

"We are afraid by what we see happening in our country right now," said Leon Modomale, a civil servant in the capital.

"It's as if the rebels are going to arrive in Bangui any moment now because there are too many contradictions in their language."

The rebel advance began earlier this month, with a push by the Union for the Democratic Forces for Unity, known by its French acronym of UFDR.

The group signed an April 13, 2007, peace accord, which paved the way for the fighters to join the regular army, but the group's leaders say the deal was never properly implemented.

Central African Republic is a desperately poor, landlocked country that has suffered numerous rebellions since independence from France.

Despite the nation's wealth of gold, diamonds, timber and uranium, the government remains perpetually cash-strapped.

US special forces troops have deployed to Central African Republic among other countries in the region in the hunt for Joseph Kony, the fugitive rebel leader of the notorious Lord's Resistance Army.

Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
News
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
The John Peel Lecture has previously been given by Pete Townshend of The Who, Billy Bragg and Charlotte Church
musicGodfather of punk will speak on 'free music in a capitalist society'
News
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
News
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments