News / Africa

CAR Prepares for Peace Talks as Rebels Threaten Capital

Head of the Central African Republic's government delegation to the peace talks, Jean Willybiro Sako, speaks to the media at the airport in Bangui, Central African Republic Monday, Jan. 7, 2013.
Head of the Central African Republic's government delegation to the peace talks, Jean Willybiro Sako, speaks to the media at the airport in Bangui, Central African Republic Monday, Jan. 7, 2013.
Anne Look
— Negotiations are set to open this week in Gabon's capital to try to find a peaceful solution to the month-long rebellion in the Central African Republic.  A rebel delegation arrived in Libreville late Monday but the plane scheduled to take government officials, opposition leaders, and civil society members to the Gabonese capital was delayed.  
 
The government of the Central African Republic heads into talks with the Seleka rebel coalition amid renewed fears of rebel attack on the capital and deadlock over demands for President Francois Bozize to step down. 
 
Rebels say Bozize must go.  The government says that is out of the question. 
 
The Seleka rebel coalition has seized one-third of the country since launching its offensive in the north on December 10. 
 
Rebels are now about 85 kilometers from the capital, according to government and rebel sources Monday.  Government troops have been sorely outmatched.  A multi-national African force now stands between the rebels and the capital. 
 
In late December, Bozize agreed to go to unconditional talks to form a coalition government and said he will not stand for a third term in 2016. 
 
The head of the government delegation, minister Jean Willyboro Sako, said Monday he has hope for dialogue.
 
He says he hopes the president's proposed concessions will be enough because a little while back, even those were not on the agenda.  He says a lot of obstacles have been cleared since the president made those spontaneous pledges, which he called demonstrations of the president's good will. 
 
This is the third major rebellion against Bozize since he won a 2005 election.  He had seized power two years earlier in a military coup.
 
Seleka is made up of fighters from three main rebel groups in the north who say the government didn't hold up its end of peace accords signed in 2007 and 2008.    
 
The government's deputy negotiator, Cyriaque Gonda, recently said that officials are ready to discuss those failings, and in particular work to get a disarmament program back on track, but he told VOA this will be the rebels' "last chance" at the negotiating table.
 
"This is going to be the last time.  We want to put away in Central African Republic the words rebellion [and] politico-military.  This is a lexocology that we have discovered here.  We are going to put it down at any cost.  But the bottom line is to try to create cohesion," he said. 
 
The country's political opposition - nine parties in all - will also be at the table in Libreville.  They say they are united in their position but will not say whether or not they want Bozize to step down. 
 
The head of that delegation, Nicolas Tiangaye, says they are going to talks with lots of optimism that they will bring a lasting peace to the country.  He says finding the solution to this crisis will consist of more than just revisiting previous peace accords and various state institutions will also be called into question.
 
A key question heading into talks is whether the Seleka rebel alliance will hold, and also whether those present in Libreville will accept anything other than Bozize's departure. 
 
Francois Nelson Djadder, coordinator of the CSPK rebel group, an affiliate of Seleka, says his group is not particpating in negotiations because Bozize's resignation is a pre-condition to talks. 
 
Djadder says they don't trust the president and are not going to enter into a coalition government.  He says they speak on behalf of the people of the country who have suffered under Bozize for the past 10 years and they are going to bring back democracy and social unity.
 
Djadder said Seleka fighters advanced to 12 kilometers outside the town of Damara this past week after being attacked by pro-government Chadian forces.  
 
Damara, at just about an hour's drive from the capital, is the last strategic outpost before Bangui. 
 
The head of the regional FOMAC force holding the line at Damara has warned rebels that to attack would be to declare war on the 10 Central African states backing the force. 
 
President Francois Bozize was in Brazzaville Monday meeting with Republic of Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who will mediate the talks in Libreville. 

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid