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CAR Rebels Sign Deals, Doubts Persist


Central African Republic President Francois Bozize has been signing peace deals with rebels, but doubts persist over whether these will end the low-level rebellion. VOA's Nico Colombant reports from our West Africa bureau in Dakar.

Early Saturday in Libya, a peace document was signed by the CAR justice minister, Paul Otto, and a rebel leader, Abdoulaye Miskine.

It calls for an immediate ceasefire, the integration of fighters into the army, and the release of war detainees.

Negotiations are also ongoing with another rebel leader, former government minister, Andre Ringui Le Gaillard.

Both rebel leaders were former allies of deposed President Ange-Felix Patasse.

A third rebel leader, Abakar Sabone, who is in jail in Benin, is also being approached with documents to sign in exchange for his release.

Divergent rebel groups and bands of criminals have staged a series of attacks since last year in the northern CAR in an impoverished remote area near Chad and Sudan. The intermittent violence has displaced tens of thousands, and caused widespread disease and malnutrition.

A group of exiled Central Africans warned of what it called the "Chadian syndrome" whereby a president signs peace deals with certain coerced individual rebel leaders for propaganda reasons, while the rebellion continues.

Chad's President Idriss Deby has been signing similar deals to end the rebellion in his own country, but fighting persists.

Meanwhile, from exile in Togo, the deposed CAR president, Mr. Patasse, is calling for dialogue, between himself, the new president, and his predecessor, Andre Kolingba.

He says Central Africans must transcend once and for all the political and military divisions that plague their lives.

He says only a meeting of all important leaders can put an end to what he calls "useless and hurtful squabbling."

Mr. Patasse has been sentenced to 20 years of hard labor for corruption, a ruling he calls null and void.

Mr. Bozize has previously refused any suggestion of a new national dialogue, saying one took place before elections in 2005 that saw him win the presidency. He says the CAR should focus on development, rather than being stuck in political negotiations and low-level war.

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