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UN: Central African Republic rebels will talk

UN: Central African Republic rebels will talk

Rebel groups in the Central African Republic that pulled out of a unity government and threatened to resume fighting if their demands weren't met by Wednesday indicated they are prepared to allow a little more time for negotiations, the U.N. envoy to the impoverished nation said.
Col. Sylvain Bordas, a spokesman for the rebel coalition known as Seleka, said Sunday that it was increasing pressure on the government to fulfill the promises made under a January peace accord. The rebels gave President Francois Bozize's government a deadline of 72 hours to comply with their demands, which include the release of political prisoners, the integration of rebel forces into the national army and the departure of South African soldiers.
Margaret Vogt, the U.N. special representative for the Central African Republic, told reporters after briefing the U.N. Security Council that the United Nations and neighboring countries that negotiated the peace agreement are working hard on its implementation.
"Two days ago, the rebel members of the government of national unity decided to withdraw from the government and went back into the bush and issued an ultimatum laying down a number of conditions that had to be met, without which they would resume fighting," Vogt said. "The ultimatum ended today, and the indication we got was that they were prepared to allow a bit more time for negotiations to take place."
She said governments of national unity are extremely difficult to implement, and the situation hasn't been made easier by the fact that Seleka controls three-quarters of the country and the government's military force "is in disarray."
Vogt said she told the Security Council that the country's people are trapped and face many human rights violations including assaults, looting, sexual exploitation and recruitment of children.
"The international community has to weigh in here to give voice to the need to stop the atrocities being committed in the Central African Republic against the people," she said.
Vogt also urged donors to contribute to the humanitarian appeal for the Central African Republic, which is only 15 percent funded.
The Security Council expressed strong concern at the deteriorating security situation and condemned recent attacks by Seleka in the southeast and "threats by militias and related movements against civilians." It called on all parties, including the media, to stop inciting violence.
The council also expressed strong concern at the humanitarian situation, including the threat of a food crisis and reports of illegal detentions and the targeting of ethnic minorities. It called on all parties to immediately stop all violence and abuses against civilians and allow the delivery of humanitarian aid.
Central African Republic has had numerous attempted power grabs over the years, but last December's advance through towns in the north marked the most significant threat to Bozize's government since the president took control following a 2003 rebellion.
The rebel fighters threatened to advance on the capital, Bangui, if Bozize did not step aside, though they later agreed in the peace deal to allow him to remain in office until his current term expires in 2016.
The crisis prompted Chad, Republic of Congo, Cameroon and Gabon to send soldiers to Central African Republic.


Updated : 2021-03-08 06:53 GMT+08:00