CAR leader preparing to step down: reports

President Michel Djotodia due to meet regional leaders in Chad against backdrop of religious unrest sweeping the nation.

    The president of the Central African Republic, where more than a thousand people have died in recent violence, is preparing to step down.

    Michel Djotodia, who deposed Francois Bozize in a coup last March, is due to meet regional leaders in Chad on Thursday to resolve the turmoil sweeping the country.

    His short spell in power has been nothing short of disastrous.

    Barnaby Phillips
    , Al Jazeera correspondent

    Reporting from Bangui, CAR's capital, on Wedneday, Al Jazeera's Barnaby Phillips said: "We know the president has left the country and is on his way to the summit. There is a consensus that President Djotodia is not part of the solution to the country's terrible problems.

    "His short spell in power has been nothing short of disastrous. The French want him out; they are very important players and always have been.

    "There is a lot of disillusionment across the region and not much patience out there."

    In an interview with Al Jazeera, J. Peter Pham, Africa Center director of the Atlantic Council, said Djotodia had lost "whatever minimal base" he had in the country.

    "Now, he has no constituency," Pham said. "He is actually an obstacle to any progress toward a new transition to a possibility of reconcialiation in the country."

    CAR has been plunged into chaos as the country's Christian majority seeks revenge against Muslim rebels, with the fighting between religious groups intensifying in December.

    UN officials have told the Security Council that the country is on the brink of a catastrophe, with half the population made homeless since ethnic warfare broke out.

    Jeffrey Feltman, UN political affairs chief, told the world body on Monday that about 2.2 million people - about half the total population - throughout the country need assistance.

    J. Peter Pham, Africa Center director of the Atlantic Council discusses Djotodia's fall from power.

    About half the people in Bangui -  a total of about 513,000 - have been driven from their homes, he said.

    An estimated 100,000 people have sought shelter at a makeshift camp at the airport near the city.

    A report in late December by Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, reported 600 deaths in Bangui in those attacks, and Feltman put the current total at "750 casualties".

    "The death toll outside Bangui is likely to be substantial," he said.

    "Killings in Bangui and the rest of the country continue every day, and the population remains divided along religious affiliation."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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