Central Africa condemns rebels

2013-03-12 22:34
Seleka coalition rebels in the Central African Republic patrolling near Damara. (Sia Kambou, AFP)

Seleka coalition rebels in the Central African Republic patrolling near Damara. (Sia Kambou, AFP)

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Bangui - The Central African Republic government charged on Tuesday that an attack by Seleka rebels on a southern town showed they were still intent on occupying the country, despite agreeing to a peace pact.

Seleka forces launched the assault on Bangassou, which lies on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, early on Monday, a military source said.

The army could not immediately say whether there were any casualties, or give details, because all the telephone lines in the area were down.

"There can be no doubt that this is a further action that confirms the choice of the Seleka coalition to pursue at any cost the occupation of the national territory," the defence ministry said in a statement.

It "condemns and denounces these acts with the utmost firmness," it said.

Seleka rebels took up arms in mid-December against the government of President Francois Bozize, a former general who came to power in a military coup in 2003 and has twice been elected back into office.

When the rebel alliance threatened the capital Bangui, regional leaders pressed hard for a peace accord.

An agreement was signed on 11 January in Libreville, providing for a new government of national unity which was formed and is led by a member of the opposition, Nicolas Tiangaye, and includes Seleka members.

"Everything is indeed happening as if the men of the Seleka... are operating outside the terms of the political accord reached in Libreville, which provided for an immediate cessation of hostilities and to which leaders who now participate in the government of national unity were party," the defence ministry said.

Seleka demands

Another military source said however that the attack on Bangassou could be the doing "of an armed band who crossed from Sudan".

The attack, which met little resistance, came in the wake of a raid at the end of February on the northern town of Sido, which was strongly criticised by two Seleka members in the new government.

In spite of the Libreville accords, the rebels still demand the release of political prisoners and the departure of foreign troops stationed in the unstable and very poor landlocked nation, particularly South African forces.

A coalition formed late last year, the Seleka - which means alliance - comprises two main rebel groups and several small armed movements.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Seleka renewed its demands and also accused the regime of "openly starting hostilities", following a fiery speech early in March by one of Bozize's advisors, Levy Yakite, to young militants.

"During this meeting, the latter [Yakite] made the most unacceptable proposals, based on hatred, violence and xenophobia," the rebel statement said, charging that the regime itself refuses to respect the Libreville accords.

Read more on:    central africa republic  |  central africa

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