France says it will protect French interests in Cent. African Republic, not 'protect regime'

The Associated Press
December 27, 2012

BANGUI, Central African Republic - The French president says France is in Central African Republic to protect French interests and not "to protect a regime."

The comments from Francois Hollande come Thursday as France faces pressure to help Central African Republic's government fight off a rapid rebel advance.

On Wednesday, protesters threw rocks at the French Embassy in Bangui, criticizing the former colonial power for failing to do more. Air France confirmed Wednesday that its once-a-week flight to Bangui turned back because of the protests.

Bangui, a city of about 600,000 people, could be the scene of a battle between government forces and rebels who have seized at least 10 towns. The rebels signed a 2007 peace accord, allowing them to join the regular army. But the group's leaders say the deal wasn't fully implemented.