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

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease 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.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid