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President Seeks Tougher Mandate For U.N. Mission

Central African Republic’s interim President Catherine Samba-Panza called on Saturday for a tougher mandate for the U.N. mission, MINUSCA, and the disarmament of militias and rebels after more than 40 people were killed in the capital of Bangui.

Samba-Panza, who returned early from the U.N. General Assembly in New York this week because of the unrest, also declared three days of national mourning for the victims, starting on Monday.

The murder of a Muslim man last weekend rekindled sectarian violence that has plagued the mostly Christian nation of 4.5 million people since Muslim Seleka rebels briefly seized power in March 2013.

Scores of homes were burned, while shops and aid organisations’ offices were looted in the riverside capital, severely hampering humanitarian operations.

More than 40,000 people were displaced, according to U.N. figures, and the violence ended any hopes of holding elections scheduled for Oct. 18.

Smba-Panza has blamed the latest unrest on supporters of former president Francois Bozize, who was ousted in 2013 by mainly Muslim rebels who fought under the umbrella group Seleka.

Many shops reopened on Saturday and people returned to the streets. Isolated acts of criminality were reported, however, and a night-time curfew remains in place. “The whole of the Central African people is convinced of the need for a more robust mandate for MINUSCA forces and the complete and immediate disarmament of the non-conventional forces,” said a statement from Samba-Panza, read on national radio. She gave no details on what such a mandate would be.

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