Today 07 December
Bangui (Central African Republic) (AFP) - French troops received a triumphant welcome as they deployed in strife-torn Central African Republic on Saturday, while the African Union said it would nearly double its force in a bid to stamp out deadly sectarian violence. Cheering residents honked horns, danced and banged on saucepans as some 200 French troops rolled into the mainly Christian town of Bouar in the west of the country. The communal violence, which has terrorised rural towns for months, flared in the capital Bangui on Thursday, leaving at least 300 dead in a wave of attacks, the Red Cross said.
France on Saturday committed itself to helping establish and finance a pan-African military force capable of intervening in crises like the current conflict in the Central African Republic. A two-day summit attended by leaders of all but a handful of African states, concluded with French President Francois Hollande pledging to help the African Union turn its plans for a rapid reaction force, agreed in principle earlier this year, into a functioning unit by 2015 "We all agreed on the fundamental principle that it is up to Africa to ensure its own security," Hollande said. "For Europe to ensure its own defence, Africa must be able to ensure its own.
A grieving South Africa started preparing Saturday to host a unique gathering of world leaders for Nelson Mandela's funeral, as his family expressed their profound sadness and loss at the anti-apartheid icon's death. Across the country, ordinary South Africans gathered in groups large and small, to both mourn and celebrate the life of the prisoner turned president who transformed their country and became a global symbol of hope and freedom. Presidents, religious leaders and cultural figureheads from all corners of the world are expected for the funeral, which will see a cortege with Mandela's coffin pass through the streets of Pretoria on three consecutive days. His family on Saturday compared the loss of their adored patriarch to the trauma of separation during his long incarceration in Robben Island.
CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — He was with Nelson Mandela during all those years the anti-apartheid icon was imprisoned on Robben Island. And, like millions around the world, he has been hit hard by Mandela's death.
Outgoing Czech Prime Minister Jiri Rusnok said he was hoping to shun the funeral of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela next week, in comments he didn't realise were being recorded and that went viral on Saturday. Talking to Defence Minister Vlastimil Picek, his neighbour in parliament on Friday, Rusnok said "I hope the president will go instead. The private chat was captured by parliament microphones, then broadcast by the public Czech Television at night before going viral on the web Saturday. He added he hoped President Milos Zeman would go to the funeral, but the Czech Republic's first-ever directly elected 69-year-old head of state is recovering from a knee injury and his participation is doubtful.
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