News24

CAR rebels demand Bozize charged by ICC

2013-01-09 20:39

Libreville - Central African rebels demanded on Wednesday that President Francois Bozize be brought before the International Criminal Court for war crimes, hours after peace talks got under way in Libreville.

The Seleka rebel coalition, which launched a major offensive last month, "demands that proceedings be taken against Francois Bozize at the ICC," it said in a statement, accusing the Central African head of state of "war crimes and crimes against humanity".

The group - an umbrella for several rebel factions - cited as examples "detentions and false imprisonment, kidnappings, disappearances, assassinations and summary executions".

The rebels reiterated their claim that the government violated peace agreements signed between 2007 and 2011, saying the accords had been "deliberately abandoned to oblivion".

The three-way peace talks between the government, rebels and political opposition, brokered by regional bloc ECCAS, were due to focus on renegotiating those agreements, conflict over which prompted the rebels to launch a major offensive last month.

With a lightning advance starting 10 December, the rebels took over most of the Central African Republic, an impoverished country of five million roughly the size of France.

They are demanding that Bozize step down, but the head of state, who took power in a 2003 coup, warned on the eve of the talks that he would not leave his job.

On Wednesday, the rebels demanded recognition by Bozize and his regime "of their military defeat and abdication in the interest of the people of Central Africa".