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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs