News / Africa

CAR Negotiations May Not Be Possible

Central African Soldiers patrol a street in Bangui, Central African Republic, January 1, 2013.Central African Soldiers patrol a street in Bangui, Central African Republic, January 1, 2013.
x
Central African Soldiers patrol a street in Bangui, Central African Republic, January 1, 2013.
Central African Soldiers patrol a street in Bangui, Central African Republic, January 1, 2013.
Anne Look
The Central African Republic capital of Bangui remained tense Tuesday as rebels threatened to take the last major government stronghold, the city of Damara, just 75 kilometers away. President Francois Bozize said he is willing to negotiate a unity government. However, rebels say he must go. It remains to be seen whether or not a negotiated solution is still possible.

Regional leaders are trying to organize peace talks in Gabon on January 10 between the government of the Central African Republic and a northern rebel alliance known as Seleka that has seized a third of the country in less than three weeks.

The rebels continue to edge toward the capital from their southernmost position, the city of Sibut, which is 186 kilometers away.

Map of Central African RepublicMap of Central African Republic
x
Map of Central African Republic
Map of Central African Republic
Their demands have evolved from saying the government must implement peace accords signed between 2007 and 2011 to calling on President Francois Bozize to step down. The rebels say they were supposed to be paid to disarm or integrate into the government military.

Bozize said he is ready to negotiate as soon as possible to create a coalition government. He said he will not stand for re-election when his term ends in 2016.

Government ready to deal

Government minister and spokesman for the political coalition behind the president, Cyriaque Gonda, said a lack of funds derailed the disarmament process. He said the government is ready to discuss with rebels how to get it back on track. He added, though, the president resigning is out of the question.

Gonda said this will be the rebels' last chance at the negotiating table.

"This is going to be the last time. We want to put away in Central African Republic the words rebellion [and] politico-military. This is a lexicology that we have discovered here. We are going to put it down at any cost. But the bottom line is to try to create cohesion," said Gonda.

Residents of Bangui say the rebels should come to the table.

A resident named Franck said that if the rebels are truly fighting for Central Africans, then they have made their demands, the president has accepted talks, so now they must begin negotiations. War, he said, cannot solve the country's problems.  

Questioning Bozize's trustworthiness

But the rebels say they don't trust Bozize.

In the capital, political opposition leader and former prime minister Martin Ziguele said the president has a track record of breaking promises.

Ziguele said the president seized power through a coup in 2003 and said he wouldn't run in elections, but then he did run. Ziguele said the president has since reneged on resolutions to the political class during a national dialogue in late 2008, including pledges to improve electoral transparency and to enlarge the government. Ziguele said he wants to believe Bozize, but he first needs to see some follow-through on at least one promise.

A strict curfew and fears of a rebel invasion put a damper on New Year's festivities in Bangui as tensions run high.

During the night, a mob of youth set up a roadblock in a residential neighborhood where they reportedly stopped a Muslim man and beat him to death. Muslims are perceived to be from the now rebel-controlled north.

The government is accused of arresting hundreds of civilians in the capital this past week who are from ethnic groups from the north and therefore are perceived to be supporters of the rebellion.

Shifting battle lines

Rebel spokesman Colonel Djouma Narkoyo said they will not negotiate until these people are released.

He said they want dialogue, but cannot go into talks under these conditions. He said the government needs to stop arresting people and release those who already have been taken.

Narkoyo said they will not withdraw from captured territory before negotiations.

The rebels have broken multiple promises to stop advancing south, but blame the moves on attacks by government forces.

Central African leaders have warned rebel fighters not to cross the frontline of Damara, about 75 kilometers, or an hour's drive, outside the capital. The African Union has threatened sanctions.

Government troops have been sorely outmatched so far by Seleka fighters.

At Damara, the national army is backed up by hundreds of Chadian troops and a regional peacekeeping force known as FOMAC.  Reinforcements continued to arrive Tuesday from several neighboring countries, including Congo-Brazzaville and Gabon.

Jose Richard Pouambi contributed to this report in Bangui, Central African Republic.

You May Like

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid