News / Africa

Central Africa Republic Rebels Issue Ultimatum, Detain Ministers

Michel Am-Nondokro Djotodia (L), leader of Central African Republic's (CAR) Seleka rebel alliance, shakes hands with CAR's President Francois Bozize (R) during peace talks with delegations representing the government and the opposition rebels, Jan. 11, 2013.
Michel Am-Nondokro Djotodia (L), leader of Central African Republic's (CAR) Seleka rebel alliance, shakes hands with CAR's President Francois Bozize (R) during peace talks with delegations representing the government and the opposition rebels, Jan. 11, 2013.
Reuters
Rebels in the Central African Republic have detained their five ministers in the government and threatened to break a January ceasefire unless prisoners are freed and other demands met.

The insurgents came close to capturing the capital Bangui and overthrowing President Francois Bozize late last year before accepting the peace deal in January under which some of their leaders joined the central government.

But increasingly bitter rhetoric from both sides is threatening to pitch the mineral-rich but impoverished, landlocked country back into conflict.

In a sign of growing tension, the Seleka rebel military command detained five ministers from its side on Sunday, preventing them from returning to the capital after talks with U.N., African Union and European Union officials.

The insurgents have demanded the release of political prisoners and the departure of about 400 South African troops who were sent in to prop up Bozize's army.

“We are giving Bozize and those around him 72 hours to meet our principal demands, otherwise we will resume hostilities,” Seleka's spokesman, Colonel Sylvain Bordas, said after a meeting with the international officials in the town of Sibut on Sunday.

“In the meantime, all our ministers in the government will stay here with us. The rest of the delegation may go back to Bangui,” he said.

One of the ministers told French RFI radio on Monday that the military command was detaining them as a means to force Bozize to accept their demands immediately.

The insurgents have also called for the incorporation of 2,000 men from their group into the national army and the recognition of their military ranks.

The government of the Central African Republic was not immediately available for comment.

Chad, Gabon, Cameroon, Republic of Congo and South Africa have deployed hundreds of troops to shore up Bozize's army after it suffered a string of defeats, allowing the rebels to advance to within 75 km (45 miles) of Bangui.

The five ministers were being kept at a rebel camp in Sibut, about 185 km (115 miles) from the capital where they discussed with diplomats how to defuse the latest crisis.

The United States said on Sunday it was concerned about worsening security in Central African Republic, urging all sides to implement the ceasefire deal.

Insurgents seized two eastern towns last week, threatening to resume their insurgency if their demands were disregarded.

They previously insisted that Bozize's resignation was a precondition for peace and that the president, who seized power in a Chadian-backed 2003 coup, should stand trial at the International Criminal Court.

Central African Republic, a former French colony, remains among the least developed in the world despite rich deposits of gold, diamonds and uranium.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More