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Central African Summit Continues in Gabon - 2001-12-05


An emergency summit aimed at bringing peace to the troubled Central African Republic is in its second day in the Gabonese capital, Libreville.

Central African President Ange Felix Patasse is continuing talks begun Tuesday with heads of state from Chad, Gabon and Congo Brazzaville, behind closed doors in Libreville.

The emergency summit is part of intense diplomatic efforts to stop resurgent fighting in the Central African Republic. It comes in the wake of similar talks Monday in Sudan, where African leaders agreed to send a peacekeeping force to maintain security in the CAR.

A resolution issued at the close of that summit said the force would be made up of troops from 16 nations in the region. But it did not specify how many peacekeepers would be involved, or when they would be deployed.

Delegates in Libreville say the resolution, which has not yet been signed by the African heads of state, is central to the ongoing talks aimed at diffusing the crisis in the Central African Republic.

Fighting flared in the CAR after Mr. Patasse fired army chief, General Francois Bozize, on October 26. The general was sacked after the government linked him to a foiled coup attempt in May.

General Bozize fled north to Chad last month. The Chadian government has refused to extradite him, saying it considers the Patasse government's case against the general, to be political not judicial.

Soldiers loyal to General Bozize have been fighting government forces in the north of the Central African Republic, close to the border with Chad.

Two weeks ago, soldiers loyal to General Bozize temporarily seized control of two towns, but were driven away by Libyan-backed government forces.

Leaders in the region are concerned that the fighting may spread beyond the Central African Republic's borders.

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