CAR rebels may enter capital

2012-12-30 14:00
A statue of a soldier holding a national flag in Bangui. (Sia Kambou, AFP)

A statue of a soldier holding a national flag in Bangui. (Sia Kambou, AFP)

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Libreville - Rebel forces in the Central African Republic (CAR) advancing on Bangui have not ruled out entering the capital and are calling for talks on the departure of President Francois Bozize, a rebel spokesperson said on Sunday.

"Bozize intends to give battle in Bangui, and if the situation demands it, we will take action," Eric Massi, spokesperson for the Seleka rebel coalition, said. He also reiterated that the rebels had no plans to seize the capital.

Massi also said Bozize's departure should be part of expected talks with the African Union on the crisis.

AU chief Thomas Boni Yayi, president of Benin, is set to travel to Bangui on Sunday to try to initiate talks between the government and rebels.

Tensions are high in Bangui as the rebels advance and the country's armed forces have retreated to Damara, the last major town before reaching the capital, about 75km away.

Also Sunday the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) which has troops in CAR warned both sides that Damara was the line not to cross.

"The ECCAS forces are on maximum alert, and the city of Damara is the line not to be crossed. We ask the FACA [government forces] and the rebels not to advance from their current positions and to give talks a chance," said Antonio Di Garcia, head of the ECCAS mission on national radio.

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