News / Africa

    Diplomats Make Last Ditch Effort to Talk With CAR Rebels

    People stand under the poster of Central Africa Republic's President Francois Bozize in Bangui on December 28, 2012People stand under the poster of Central Africa Republic's President Francois Bozize in Bangui on December 28, 2012
    x
    People stand under the poster of Central Africa Republic's President Francois Bozize in Bangui on December 28, 2012
    People stand under the poster of Central Africa Republic's President Francois Bozize in Bangui on December 28, 2012
    Anne Look
    Central African countries are working Friday to open talks between the government of the Central African Republic (CAR) and the rebel coalition that has seized 10 key towns in the north in the past three weeks. The rebels are threatening to march on the capital, Bangui, and topple the government if the president does not negotiate.

    The Seleka Coalition
     
    -Made up of several rebel factions
    -Aims to remove President Francois Bozize
    -Accuses Bozize of failing to honor cease-fire
    -Seized 10 towns in December
    The rebel group, known as Seleka, began its lightning offensive in the north on December 10 and is now within 300 kilometers of the capital, Bangui.

    All that remains between the rebels and the capital are a few hundred Chadian forces and a regional peacekeeping force, called FOMAC, from the Economic Community of Central African States, which said Thursday that it is sending in reinforcements.

    The United States has temporarily closed its embassy in Bangui and evacuated its ambassador and staff due to security concerns.

    Analysts say the government forces are outmatched and have not put up much of a fight.

    Regional diplomats are meeting in Bangui Friday to try and pave the way for peace talks that will ultimately be held in Gabon's capital, Libreville, though no date has been announced. The rebels say they have halted their advance to wait for negotiations, however they have broken similar promises in the past week.

    Central African Republic President Francois Bozize, June 30, 2011.Central African Republic President Francois Bozize, June 30, 2011.
    x
    Central African Republic President Francois Bozize, June 30, 2011.
    Central African Republic President Francois Bozize, June 30, 2011.
    President Francois Bozize says he will negotiate but only if the rebels withdraw from the captured territory. The rebels say they will not withdraw before negotiations.

    Bozize spoke publicly Thursday for the first time since the start of the rebellion.

    The president called on France and the United States to help fight off the rebels so that talks can take place in Libreville. He accused the rebels of plotting with the political opposition against the government.

    Analysts say the rebels appear to be well-armed, and the question of who is financing them remains unanswered.

    France, which has about 200 soldiers in Bangui, says that it will not intervene, and that its forces are there to protect French interests.

    Lydie Boka, head of the Paris-based risk analysis firm Strategico, said France and longtime ally Chad appear to have stepped back from Bozize, and his government is in real danger.

    Boka says negotiations remain possible. She says for the president, the best case scenario could be being forced to enlarge his government, while the worst case could be a forced resignation.

    Seleka unites fighters from as many as four rebel groups in the north. Many of them were involved in a four-year conflict that officially ended with peace accords in 2007, though fighting has repeatedly flared up in the north since 2009.

    Seleka says the government must fully implement 2007 and 2011 peace accords that included paying rebel fighters to disarm and integrating them into the army.  

    Boka said the rebels have, for now, found a common objective but are far from unified.

    She says in September of last year, two of the groups in the coalition — the UFDR and the CJPJ — fought a deadly battle in the diamond mining town of Bria over control of that industry. These groups, she says, are hardly dear friends or people who are going to bring a miracle solution to the immense problems of the country.

    The U.N. Security Council has condemned the rebel attacks in the north.

    Bozize, himself a former army chief, first came to power in 2003 after overthrowing the previous government.

    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