PARIS, March 24 (Xinhua) -- French President Francois Hollande discussed by phone with his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma the situation in the Central African Republic after the country's capital city Bangui was seized by rebels on Sunday.
The two heads of state "called on all parties to keep calm, stop looting and respect for political agreements of Libreville," said a statement released by Hollande's office.
The French president also extended to Zuma his condolences for the loss of life suffered by Defence Force of South Africa in the Central African Republic.
The president's office announced in another statement on Sunday that France will strengthen its military presence in the Central African Republic to protect French citizens there after rebels had taken over the capital city on Sunday morning.
Hollande also spoke with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno, who also serves as Chairman of the Economic Community of Central African States, on the situation in the Central African Republic.
Central African Republic President Francois Bozize fled the presidential palace in the capital Bangui 30 minutes before rebels began to zero in on the compound, Bozize's office said on Sunday.
The announcement was made after a local human rights observation group reported that Bozize was seen on route to Mbaiki 107 km south of Bangui. Some reports said he was fleeing to the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.
France on Sunday also confirmed that it has sent 350 troops in the weekend to the Central African Republic to protect its citizens there.