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Published: Friday January 24, 2014 MYT 7:20:01 AM
Updated: Friday January 24, 2014 MYT 7:20:58 AM

IMF plans to discuss loan with Central African Republic

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The International Monetary Fund plans to discuss a new loan program with the Central African Republic once the security situation allows it, a Fund spokesman said on Thursday.

The former French colony has been torn apart by inter-religious violence since a coup in March, displacing almost 1 million people, or a quarter of the country's population.

At least 16 people died in clashes on Thursday as interim president Catherine Samba-Panza took office with a plea for militia to lay down their arms.

"As soon as the new government is in place and security permitting, the IMF will initiate dialogue with the new authorities to assess the situation and discuss possible assistance through the Rapid Credit Facility," an IMF spokesman said in an email.

The Rapid Credit Facility helps countries with an urgent balance of payments crisis, and often sends a signal to other donors that its economy is on the right path.

The IMF last year approved loans under the same program for Mali, which returned to growth after a French-led military intervention to help the government halt advances by Islamist rebels.

A French intervention force and thousands of African peacekeepers have failed to stop the killing in the Central African Republic, which has worsened in Bangui and in the northwest in recent days.

Some 500 additional troops pledged by European Union nations this week will help to secure Bangui's airport and surrounding area, freeing up French soldiers for patrols in the capital and throughout the country.

International aid donors and the World Bank have also pledged $500 million this week to help provide emergency services and eventually help the country rebuild.

(Reporting by Anna Yukhananov; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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