After a few months of taking heat on the lax security around the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, the State Department has yanked personnel out of a deteriorating security situation in the Central African Republic.
The move, though, comes after the United Nations decided to relocate staff after determining that a cease-fire between the government and a coalition of rebel groups was not holding.
“The U.S. Embassy in Bangui temporarily suspended its operations on December 28 as a result of the present security situation in the Central African Republic (CAR). We have not suspended diplomatic relations with the Central African Republic,” Acting Deputy Spokesperson Patrick Ventrell said in a statement tonight.
“Ambassador Wohlers and his diplomatic team left Bangui today along with several private U.S. citizens. As a result of this suspension of operations, the embassy will not be able to provide routine consular services to American citizens in the Central African Republic until further notice,” he continued. “This decision is solely due to concerns about the security of our personnel and has no relation to our continuing and long-standing diplomatic relations with the CAR.”
Rebels are advancing on Bangui, according to the New York Times, and some residents there threw stones and tore down the flag at the French Embassy in protest of the former colonial power not doing more to help stop the bloodshed.
French President Francois Hollande said he has no intention of lending a hand to CAR President François Bozize. “If we are present, it is not to protect a regime, it is to protect our nationals and our interests, and in no way to intervene in the internal affairs of a country, in this case Central Africa,” he told reporters. “Those days are over.”
Bozize came to power in a rebellion nearly a decade ago.