News / Africa

CAR Rebels Agree to Ceasefire During Peace Talks

Central African Republic soldiers brandish their weapons as they follow President Francois Bozize's convoy heading for the airport in Bangui for peace talks in Gabon January 10, 2013.Central African Republic soldiers brandish their weapons as they follow President Francois Bozize's convoy heading for the airport in Bangui for peace talks in Gabon January 10, 2013.
x
Central African Republic soldiers brandish their weapons as they follow President Francois Bozize's convoy heading for the airport in Bangui for peace talks in Gabon January 10, 2013.
Central African Republic soldiers brandish their weapons as they follow President Francois Bozize's convoy heading for the airport in Bangui for peace talks in Gabon January 10, 2013.
Anne Look
The rebel coalition that has seized one-third of the Central African Republic (CAR) during its month-long rebellion has agreed to a temporary, one-week ceasefire. The agreement was reached during peace talks with the government that are underway in Gabon. Residents of CAR's capital, Bangui, say they want peace at any cost. 

President Francois Bozize is offering to form a unity government with the rebel coalition that has come dangerously close to the capital and headed into talks Wednesday calling for his resignation.

As the last day of planned talks opened in Libreville, Gabon, on Friday, it was unclear whether rebels would accept Bozize's offer.

Residents of Bangui say the government and the rebels must work out their differences.

Yearning for peace

Street vendor Armand Gira says they have dialogue after dialogue, but all they want is peace and development. He says they are against this crisis, emphasizing they are all Central Africans and they can't just kill each other. He adds that Bozize has three years left on his mandate, and asks why not just leave him in place and wait for elections in 2016? He says these negotiations "have to work," just as a father and son should always be able to find a way to get along.

Fighters from three main rebel groups calling themselves the Seleka coalition launched the current rebellion on December 10th. They are now within 85 kilometers of the capital, Bangui. Government troops have been outmatched in the fighting. A multi-national African force now stands between the rebels and the capital.

Residents say they are living in what midwife Chantale Dango called a "big question mark."

Dango says the rebels are divided. Some want dialogue, others don't. She says the people are looking to those in Libreville to support them, to help them. She says if talks go well, then they will be happy and healthy and at peace. But if they don't, she says they will be back in the bush.

A history of revolt

Rebels in the north have repeatedly risen up against President Bozize since 2005. That was the year Bozize won his first election, having seized power in a military coup two years earlier.

Some rebels are disgruntled ex-supporters of Bozize, others backed the president he ousted, Ange Felix Patasse, and still others are products of widespread poverty and insecurity in the north.

Deep-seated distrust could undermine chances of a negotiated solution this time around.

The Seleka coalition says the government defaulted on peace accords signed in 2007 and 2008, specifically a program to pay and disarm rebels.

Civil servant Serge Tonabana says the rebels have no right to demand that Bozize resign. He says the rebels say the Libreville accords of 2008 were not respected, so what would be ideal at negotiations would be to look again at these accords and ask the government to demonstrate its goodwill to live up to them.  He says Bozize's resignation would mean they have to hold new elections, which would be expensive and make the country look bad.

Costs of conflict

The capital, Bangui, remains under a daily curfew from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Residents say the mere threat of rebel attacks has hurt business, increased criminality and made daily life difficult.

A local street sweeper, Marie-Josephine, says the people want peace. She says she hopes the various leaders will accept to talk in Libreville because life is too hard. She says two of her children have already fled across the river and she doesn't feel safe.

The Central African Republic is one of the poorest countries in Africa and the world. It has been plagued by conflict, coup plots and mutinies since independence from France in 1960.

Residents said they have had enough of violent changes of power.

Businessman Jerome Zouwa says that every time there is a change in the country, its people have to start over from scratch. He says rebels loot, steal and break everything and that takes time to rebuild. He says they cannot ever wish for change to come that way, adding that he has never seen a positive change of power in the country. It is "always negative, always destruction."

Residents say they are desperately hoping for a different outcome this time around.

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, No voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve and do not want to take a risk by endorsing independence More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid