CAR rebels suspend fighting

2012-12-21 16:16
Francois Bozize. (AFP)

Francois Bozize. (AFP)

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Bangui - Rebels in the Central African Republic have suspended fighting to give talks with the government a chance, but will maintain their positions in the north, a spokesperson said on Friday.

"The coalition made a unilateral decision from Thursday evening to suspend operations on the ground, to give a chance for the dialogue, which we have been calling for since the start of operations," Michel Djotodia, one of the leaders of the Seleka rebel coalition, told AFP.

"We are asking our men to maintain their positions and not to react to provocation while we wait for sincere talks to open," he added.

Chad has said it would host talks on Friday between rebels and the government of the Central African Republic, a deeply poor landlocked country, as wells as a summit of the Economic Community of Central African States (CEEAC) to discuss the crisis.

Chad, whose president is a close ally of Central African President Francois Bozize, on Wednesday sent troops across the border at Bangui's request.

Djotodia said that since Chad had made it clear that they were there to separate the two sides rather than to attack the rebels, they were ready to suspend operations pending the negotiations.

Rebels from the three groups in the Seleka coalition, which was formed in August, have been heading steadily southwards from Ndele, a major northern town close to the Chadian border, which they captured on 15 December.

Despite condemnation of their offensive by the Central African oppositions, the African Union and the UN Security Council, they have refused to pull back from the towns they have captured.

The rebels accuse Bozize of failing to follow through on peace deals agreed between 2007 and 2011 by providing financial support and social reinsertion for rebels who lay down their arms.

A Chadian opposition alliance, the CPDC, meanwhile denounced Chad's military intervention in CentrAfrica.

The opposition groups have previously criticised Bozize for having failed implement the peace accords.

Read more on:    francois bozize  |  central african republic  |  chad  |  central africa
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