Central African Republic crisis: 'Lame-duck' president?
The Presidential Palace in the Central African Republic (CAR) - a collection of tired-looking white buildings set around a pot-holed central parade ground - sits on a gentle slope overlooking the centre of the capital, Bangui.
Years ago, during the rule of the self-proclaimed Emperor Bokassa, the palace was at the heart of an intimidating, highly centralised, all-powerful regime.
In Bangui this week, one of the emperor's former bodyguards told me, over a drink, how he had been jailed for four years - and six of his colleagues executed - on the basis of some idle, incorrect, palace gossip.
Today, by contrast, it is tempting to conclude that the authority emanating from the Presidential Palace stretches no further than the iron gates that punctuate its high-security walls.
Outside, African Union peacekeepers guard the complex, and waved us casually through the rear gate and on towards a dark corridor.
CAR crisis: Meeting the rebel army chief
On a dirt side-street between the deserted petrol station and the hospital in Bambari in the Central African Republic, five well-armed soldiers were standing guard outside the tall gates of what must once have been a rather grand colonial villa.
A few minutes earlier, I had received a rather brusque phone call from a man called Major General Joseph Zoundeiko, who wanted me to come and see him immediately.
Central African Republic crisis: Silent majority held hostage
Travelling into the countryside of the Central African Republic around Bambari is an unpredictable business at the best of times. Two punctures on the rutted dirt track delayed our first attempt.
We limped back to a tyre-repair shop in the town's dilapidated Muslim quarter, close to the spot where a suspected Christian fighter had been hacked to death by a mob.
Central African Republic: Where rumours can kill in seconds
The French soldier nearly tripped over the old man.
"I thought he was dead," he said, moments later, bending down to examine the skeleton-thin body lying naked in the dark debris of what the French patrol had assumed was an abandoned building on the outskirts of Bambari.
Central African Republic: Fighting spreads like infection
Francoise Gerizapa scrunched her face into a fierce pout and then screamed once more - a chilling, sing-song whoop that filled the dark, crowded ward at Bambari's hospital in the Central African Republic (CAR).
Two nurses were holding Ms Gerizapa's shoulders as a third poured disinfectant into a large, rotting, bullet wound in the 43-year-old's lower leg.
Central African Republic's road to anarchy
On a map, the RN (Route Nationale) 2 looks like a rather important highway linking the central town of Sibut with the entire eastern half of the Central African Republic (CAR) and beyond.
If you want to drive from the capital, Bangui, towards South Sudan, Uganda and the Indian Ocean, then the RN2 is your only option - a vital artery for commerce and migration that runs through valleys and forests, past gold and diamond mines and dozens of major towns as it forges eastwards just north of the equator and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
How did Oscar Pistorius' defence fare?
Judge Thokozile Masipa stood up, bowed and walked stiffly out of courtroom GD; minutes later South African athlete Oscar Pistorius slipped away too, followed by his legal team.
No-one appeared to be smiling.
Oscar Pistorius: A glimpse of what might have been
It wafted through the courtroom like a patch of unexpected sunlight, before prosecutor Gerrie Nel - true to form - marched over and yanked down the blinds.