CAR rebels defy peace efforts

2012-12-30 07:59
A CAR rebel (AFP)

A CAR rebel (AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Bangui - Rebels in the Central African Republic, defying regional mediation efforts, on Saturday seized a new town in their advance on the capital Bangui and repelled a bid by army soldiers to retake a key central city.

The rebels faced no resistance as they entered the town of Sibut some 150km from Bangui, a military source told AFP.

Also on Saturday, officials on both sides said the rebels of the so-called Seleka coalition had repelled army soldiers who were trying to recapture Bambari, a former military stronghold in the landlocked country, one of the world's poorest despite vast mineral wealth.

A military official described "extremely violent" fighting over the town, with detonations and heavy weapons fire audible to witnesses some 60km away.

Djouma Narkoya, a Seleka leader, claimed that the army suffered "losses", while the rebel side had "one killed and three injured" in the fighting.

No dates set for measures

The rebels, who launched their offensive in early December, now control four main towns, mainly in the north and centre of the country, including the garrison town and key diamond mining hub of Biraosince.

Bangui is in the southwest.

Meanwhile regional efforts to mediate a peaceful solution in the landlocked equatorial country were at a standstill.

A day after announcing that the rebels and the government had agreed to hold unconditional peace talks and that more regional troops would head to the country, the Economic Community of Central African States said no dates had been set for either measure.

The bloc's foreign ministers will meet again next Thursday "and that is when they will announce a date for the meeting in (the Gabonese capital) Libreville," ECCAS's communications director Placide Ibouanga told AFP, referring to talks between rebels and the government.

He said the arrival of more regional troops was also uncertain.

"The arrival date of the new contingent depends on the heads of state," he said, referring to troops that are due to reinforce the 500-strong Multinational Force of Central Africa, which ECCAS deployed in the chronically unstable country in 2002.

The coalition of three rebel movements known as Seleka - or the "alliance" in the Sango language - says the government has not fulfilled the terms of peace pacts signed in 2007 and 2001, providing for disarmament and social reintegration for insurgents, including pay.

Central African President Francois Bozize, who took power in a 2003 coup, has twice been elected into office.

In the face of the rebel gains against an ill-equipped army, Bozize's appeals for help from former colonial power France and from the US have fallen on deaf ears.

Neighbouring Chad, which has helped Bozize with rebellions in 2010, has sent a contingent to the country, however.

‘I’m afraid of the rebels’

In Bangui, food prices have soared, further spiking tensions and uncertainty.

Residents feared a rebel advance on the city would make a deteriorating situation even worse.

"I'm afraid of the rebels coming," said vegetable vendor Euphrasie Ngotanga in the city's huge Sambo market. "We're not going to sell our produce if there's no peace. And then how we will feed our children?"

"We don't eat properly anymore," said another vendor, Angele Bodero, with her baskets full of condiments before her.

"Cassava has become more expensive, everything costs more," she said, referring to the country's staple food.

A bag of cassava has risen nearly 50% from 13 000 CFA francs to 18 000 FCFA.

"We need peace so we can work and get by," said elderly vendor Jean Guere, trying to sell the flour sifters he makes himself.

The UN has demanded rebels halt their assault, and urged Bozize's government to ensure the safety of civilians.
Read more on:    central african republic  |  central africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


For the love of Corgis!

WATCH: 35 Corgi's to make your day! If they’re good enough for the Queen of England they’re good enough for us.



Can we communicate with our pets?
8 great natural remedies for your pet
Buying a puppy? Don’t get scammed!
WATCH: These funny animal videos will make you LOL!
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.