CAR leader faces rebel threat

2013-01-02 13:19

Bangui — After troops under Francois Bozize seized the capital of Central African Republic in 2003 amid volleys of machine-gun and mortar fire, he dissolved the constitution and parliament. Now a decade later it is Bozize who himself could be ousted from power with rebels having seized more than half the country and made their way to the doorstep of the capital in less than a month.

In a bid to avoid being overthrown, he's promising to form a coalition government with rebels and to negotiate without conditions. It's a sign of how serious a threat is now being posed by the rebel groups who call themselves Seleka, which means alliance in the local Sango language.

But Bozize says there's one point not up for negotiation: Him leaving office before his term ends in 2016.

"We can't destroy the country. I don't think that a transition is a good solution for the rebels, for Central African Republic or for the international community," said Cyriaque Gonda, a spokesperson for the political coalition behind Bozize.

But mediators for the government and others note the rebels — an alphabet soup of acronyms in French, UFDR, CPJP, FDPC and CPSK — want Bozize gone. And that's the only issue the disparate group seem unified on. Seleka is a shaky alliance that lumps together former enemies.

In September 2011, fighting between the CPJP and the UFDR left at least 50 people dead in the town of Bria and more than 700 homes destroyed.

Multiple low-level rebellions

"Even if they show unity in the military action, we know that they are politically very disunited, the only thing that holds them together is the opposition to the current president," said Roland Marchal, a Paris-based expert on Central African Republic. "If they take control of the capital I think that divisions would appear quickly."

Gonda, who has negotiated on behalf of the government with the rebels, says some of them couldn't even accept sitting together as recently as 2008.

Bozize, who seized power while the democratically elected president was travelling outside the country, managed to win elections in 2005 but in the years since he has faced multiple low-level rebellions that have shattered security across the northern part of this large but desperately poor country. He won the 2011 election with more than 64% of the vote, though the US says the voting was "widely viewed as severely flawed".

The most prominent among the rebels groups in Seleka is the UFDR, or Union of Democratic Forces for Unity.

Human Rights Watch, which has documented abuses by both government forces and rebel groups operating in the country's north, says the UFDR rebellion "has its roots in the deep marginalisation of northeastern CAR, which is virtually cut off from the rest of the country and is almost completely undeveloped".

The rebels, though, also have included some of Bozize's former fighters who helped bring him to power in 2003 but later accused him of failing to properly pay them, among other grievances, Human Rights Watch says.

  • abner.mophethe - 2013-01-03 08:29

    what goes around comes around,Bozize must just leave, his number is up!

  • arnaud.munezero - 2013-01-03 10:00

    What goes around comes around in 2003 it was him chasing other today it is his turn to be chased.

  • venus.nakesch - 2013-01-03 11:13

    this is called what goes around comes around. Mr president did you think you will get out of the hook? who kills by the sword will die by sword. now you will experience what you did in 2003 by yourself. hope other African presidents watch.

  • Gordon5100 - 2013-01-03 11:40

    That is how Sub Saharan Africa works. One despotic chief of a tribe takes over, lasts a short while then another takes over, then infinitum!! Thay do not understand how the civilised world works but have a different mentality.

      fidelity.mcoshi - 2013-01-03 12:40

      Europe went for hundreds of years before it could settle down and find stability, up until the 1940s. In Africa this was interrupted by slavery, followed by colonialism, and instead artificial constructs to facilitate European Imperialism were created. People or tribes who had no commonality or allegiance were bunched together in these arranged marriages. Look at countries like Spain and Portugal, they still maintain their independence today, even though geographically one could argue that they could have as well been one country. So in most parts of Africa today, these arranged marriages are being re-arranged.

      hein.huyser - 2013-01-07 07:13

      fidelity, you live in a half-dream state. Instead of building on the infrastructures and civil servant structures that was left by the "colonialists" Africa, because of their tribalism, will rather destroy everything? Its happening all over Africa, and steadily but surely in South Africa ad well. We that have traveled a bit have seen (accept in the two world wars en masse), that most countries have rebuilt and carried on with their lives for the betterment of its citizens in general In Africa however, we see that if one clan gets to an office, only his clan members get jobs. Irrespective of their ability. They know they have a limited time at access to the chequebook, thetefore its better to empty the bank account before someone else gets something. You can not deny that it is the centre of the problem all over Africa and currently in South Africa as well. In some strange manner, Europe and the 1st world works diffetently. Ever wondered why? Howcome is it that a white can employ anyone, but when a black needs to make the choice he will rather choose an incompetent before the right candidate because he might be of the wrong color or tribe? This self-destruct mentality is the thing you need to work on, and gorget the colonialists, they have no influence on Africa now. Lastly. Rather try to establish a business of your own and employ some people to grow that business. That will answer all your questions

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