President Barack Obama taped a message aimed at the Central African Republic while in Dakar, Senegal today, urging the country to reject the violence that threatens it.
Mbi bala ala kouè," Obama says in the message. "This is President Barack Obama, and today I want to speak directly to you—the people of the Central African Republic."
Obama warns that the violence by government affiliated armed groups and independent “self-defense” militias "threatens the country you love.
"We know from the bitter experience of other countries what happens when societies descend into violence and retribution," Obama said. "Today, my message to you is simple: it doesn’t have to be this way. You—the proud citizens of the Central African Republic—have the power to choose a different path."
Obama noted that Muslim and Christian leaders are calling for calm and peace and said he called on the transitional government to join them and arrest those committing crimes.
France and other African countries are working to restore security and Obama said the U.S. would support their efforts to protect civilians.
"You can show your love for your country by rejecting the violence that would tear it apart," Obama said. "That is how we honor our faiths. That is how reconciliation occurs."
The Pentagon announced earlier Monday that, in coordination with France, the U.S. military would provide airlift assistance to move African troops from Burundi to the Republic. A resolution supporting the French-African Union effort passed the U.N. Security Council last week.