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

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora