The rebel fighters are a coalition known as Seleka that have captured four regional cities and towns, including a diamond mining hub, since taking up arms on Dec. 10. They accuse Bozizé of not upholding peace deals meant to end several regional uprisings.
The conflict has posed yet another challenge to French foreign policy, particularly in its former African colonies. There are around 250 French military advisers in the CAR, but French President François Hollande said yesterday that troops wouldn’t get involved. "If we are present, it is not to protect a regime, it is to protect our nationals and our interests, and in no way to intervene in the internal affairs of a country," President Hollande was quoted by AFP as saying. "Those days are gone."
That’s a contrast from Hollande’s predecessor, Nicholas Sarkozy, who took a more aggressive approach, sending French military troops, for example, to help oust Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo amid fighting that followed a disputed presidential election. French jets played a major role in the air campaign in Libya that ultimately led to Col. Muammar Qaddafi’s defeat.