28/12/12 06:46 CET
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The President of the Central African Republic has called on foreign powers to fend off rebels who are quickly seizing territory and closing in on the capital.
Speaking to crowds in Bangui, Francois Bozize made a particular plea for help to France, the country’s former colonial power.
This came a day after dozens of protesters who were angry about the lack of assistance threw rocks at the French embassy in the capital and stole a French flag.
French President Francois Hollande has ruled out any such intervention:
“If we have a presence, it’s not to protect a regime,” he said. “It’s to protect our nationals and our interests and in no way to intervene in the internal business of a country, in this case the Central African Republic, those days are over.”
The landlocked nation of around four-and-a-half-million people is roughly the same size as France.
Bozize had earlier called on long time Ally Chad for help, who had agreed to send in 2000 troops, but it is unclear if they have all arrived or if they would be capable of halting the rebel advance.
The country has seen a number of violent changes of government since gaining independence in 1960.
There are around 200 French soldiers in the country but the French Defence Ministry says they are only there to offer technical support and training.
Paris is instead encouraging peace talks between the government and the rebels.
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