CAR delegation leaves for peace talks

2013-01-08 14:38
CAR President Francois Bozize (File, AFP)

CAR President Francois Bozize (File, AFP)

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Bangui - Officials from the Central African Republic on Tuesday left for Gabon, where peace talks with a rebel coalition are to be held this week.

The talks, mediated by the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), will focus on the recent crisis affecting the unstable central African country since rebels launched an offensive on a number of towns in December.

The rebels accuse President Francois Bozize of breaching a past peace deal and want him to step down, and kept advancing on the capital Bangui.

"This dialogue is the only opportunity to silence the guns in the Central African Republic. Its failure could plunge the country in a precarious state," a local government representative in Bangui told dpa.

Representatives of the Seleka rebel coalition arrived in the Gabonese capital of Libreville on Monday.

"This is an opportunity [for Seleka] to present their true motivation instead of asking the departure of Bozize who is democratically elected," said Cyriaque Gonda, a former communications minister.

On Sunday, South Africa sent 400 troops to CAR to support the already existing South African National Defence Force there. France, the United States and ECCAS have earlier deployed soldiers in the country.

The United Nations estimates that about 316 000 people of the population of more than 4.6 million live in the conflict-affected areas, and at least 700 000 persons in Bangui are at risk should there be an escalation in fighting.

- SAPA
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