Central African Republic: Paris fears for the safety of the Pope

Le pape François à Florence, le 10 novembre 2015.

Pope Francis in Florence, November 10, 2015. Photo credits: STEFANO RELLANDINI / REUTERS

The visit of the Holy Father, scheduled for 29 and November 30, comes amid deteriorating security situation in the country.

France would be okay for the next visit of Pope Francis in CAR in late November, and does not mystery. Paris recently informed the services of the Vatican responsible for preparing the papal visit, scheduled for 29 and 30 November, that it presented security risks. “We have informed the Pope that his coming in the CAR was at high risk for it, especially as hundreds of thousands of pilgrims were coming from Cameroon, Chad and Congo,” warns a good source of Defense.

The gradual withdrawal of French soldiers of the Force in the CAR Sangaris -currently the number of 900- was stopped because of the breakdown in recent weeks, the security situation and the continuing ethnic violence . “These forces are necessary to ensure the protection of the airport and possible medical evacuation,” says the good source excluding any “reinforcement” for the coming of the pope. “We can not do more for safety,” does one declare, French side. While defense officials have obviously preferred that the pope waives this visit, it is stated that France “does not intervene” to request a cancellation. It is also considered unlikely at this stage, apart from a sudden transition scarlet safe lights.

“The pope is committed to this visit to take place and considers that it can not be postponed,” do you notes from the entourage of Jean-Yves Le Drian. “The CAR authorities also want because they believe it will be a positive signal for the elections”, the date was finally set for December. With the approach of the visit to RCA – which will be preceded by a step in Uganda – no hypothesis is formally ruled out of Defense: cancellation, full tour in two days or a shortened program that would reduce the presence of the Holy -Father a few hours, which would relieve much of the pressure on Sangaris.

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