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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid