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

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    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.
    Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United Statesi
    X
    July 28, 2016 2:16 AM
    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora