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Chinese evacuated from CAR as civil unrest grows
Publication Date : 31-12-2012
Around 250 of the 300 Chinese living and working in the Central African Republic have been evacuated since the unrest erupted in the country, Chinese embassy officials in the country said yesterday.
"Around 250 Chinese nationals have flown back to China or to neighbouring countries, and the rest of them - about 50 - will be leaving today or in the following days," said Wang Xudong, counselor of the Chinese embassy in the CAR capital Bangui yesterday.
He added there were around 300 Chinese nationals currently living or working in Bangui, and most had lived there for decades, mainly working for Chinese companies.
The embassy will "try its best" to offer support to Chinese nationals and ensure their safety, and extra assistance will also be provided to those who choose to stay, according to Sun Haichao, the ambassador.
The CAR government is facing its gravest security threat since being formed in January 2009 after talks between Seleka rebels and the government of President Francois Bozize failed to reach agreement, and there are growing fears that the rebels may now attempt to depose the president.
The rebels have taken over several towns, including the key mining centre of Bria, in just two weeks.
Regional leaders say both sides have agreed to hold talks, although no firm timetable has been given, as rebels continue their push south towards the capital.
Last week, the government rejected accusations by rebels that it had failed to respect the Libreville Global Peace Agreements signed between 2006 and 2007.
The United Nations Security Council on Thursday condemned recent rebel attacks in the CAR and called on all parties to seek a peaceful solution to the country's current crisis through political dialogue.
In a statement, the Security Council also expressed its support for the efforts undertaken by the Economic Community of the Central African States to resolve the crisis.
Wang noted that African Union head Thomas Boni Yayi, the president of Benin, was scheduled to visit Bangui yesterday in an effort to mediate.
A rebel spokesman said that rebel forces advancing on Bangui had not ruled out entering the capital and are calling for talks on the departure of President Bozize, according to AFP.
"Bozize intends to fight in Bangui, and if the situation demands it, we will take action," said Eric Massi, spokesman for the Seleka rebel coalition.
He also said Bozize's departure should be part of expected talks with the AU on the crisis.
US President Barack Obama said on Saturday in a letter to Congress that about 50 US troops have been deployed to help the evacuation of US diplomats and citizens from the CAR.
Obama informed congressional leaders that the troops were deployed on Thursday to the neighbouring country of Chad to "support the evacuation of US embassy personnel and US citizens" due to "the deteriorating security situation", according to the letter released by the White House.
He noted that although equipped for combat, the "stand-by" security force was deployed "solely for the purpose of protecting US citizens and property".
Xinhua contributed to this story.