The interim President of the Central African Republic (CAR) has confirmed upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in the country will "no doubt" be postponed in the wake of a new surge in violence between Muslim and Christian militias.
The capital Bangui was under lockdown on Monday 28 September after 42 people were murdered in retaliation following the decapitation of a Muslim motorcycle taxi driver. Members of a Christian militia attacked the Ngaragba prison in Bangui, freeing more than 500 prisoners – most of them so-called "anti-Balaka" Christian fighters.
'Staying the course' despite violence
Commenting on the thousands of protesters who marched to within 100m of the presidential palace demanding her resignation, UN-backed interim President Catherine Samba-Panza said she was "staying the course", but added the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled on 18 October to replace her government may be postponed.
"Since I arrived to head the transition, my resignation is constantly asked for. But I keep on course. I received a mandate from the people to lead this transition to the end and in a calmer way. I will keep the course for my country," Samba-Panza told BBC Afrique.
Samba-Panza left the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday 29 September to return home due to the worst violence in Bangui this year.
Elections dates 'likely to be revised'
While the international community has been pushing for the elections to be held within the deadlines, the interim leader said "the scheduled dates of the elections are likely to be revised" given the difficulties encountered on the ground regarding the setting up of the electoral operations.
"It is a decision that must be taken with the entire political class, with all the Central African actors, so that together we see, by the end of 2015, on what date we can organize the constitutional referendum and presidential and legislative elections," she said.
"The Central African people is going through difficult times and it needs to know that its head of state is at his side to share its difficulties. The people especially need to be reassured, I think I have to go to Bangui to reassure the Central African people."
$3m funding needed for elections
Samba-Panza confirmed she was appealing to donors and supporters "to allow the new leaders who will be democratically elected to have the means (to set out) their policy until the programs are set up for the Central African Republic".
According to the BBC, the president requires about $3 million (£1.98 million) funding to cover the cost of the upcoming elections.
Despite the fast-tracked meeting, Samba-Panza told the BBC "There were lots of announcements and many commitments (from supporters) that will play out in the coming days."
In New York, the UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon condemned the "unacceptable" violence while the Security Council said in a statement that it remains prepared to blacklist individuals and entities that undermine peace and stability in the country.
The US State Department also condemned the violence in a statement that expressed support for Samba-Panza's transitional government. Central African Republic has been led by a transitional government since January 2014.