Rebels reject unity government offer in Central African Republic

François Bozizé, Photo: eliesmith.blogspot.com
François Bozizé, Photo: eliesmith.blogspot.com

The Seleka alliance said President Francois Bozize could not be trusted

Rebels in Central African Republic have turned down President Francois Bozize’s offer of a government of national unity, fuelling concerns an African Union-brokered peace talks between both sides may be heading for the rocks.

Mr. Bozize said on Sunday he was ready to form a coalition government with the Seleka rebel and not to seek re-election in 2016, offers he hoped will help stem the rebel’s rapid advance towards the capital, Bangui.

But a spokesperson for the rebels said the president was not to be trusted.

“We don’t believe in Bozize’s promises,” spokesperson, Eric Massi, was quoted by the BBC as saying.

The rebels have blamed the three-week old conflict on Mr. Bozize’s failure to honour previous peace accords signed between 2007 and 2011 which offered financial support and other assistance to insurgents who laid down their arms.

Weeks of rapid advance have seen the rebels sweeping through to less than 100 kilometers away from the capital, Bangui, vowing to topple the government if they were not attended to.

Both sides agreed to the peace talks in neighbouring Gabon after it became clear Mr. Bozize’s 10-year old regime was seriously threatened, and after the African Union, AU, warned of sanctions should the rebels carry out their threat.

The rebel spokesperson urged the AU to deploy African peacekeepers to protect northerners living in the capital, who he claimed, were being targeted by the government and its supporters, the BBC said. He said 400 people have disappeared the past weeks.

“If they don’t do that, we will protect them ourselves,” Mr. Massi was quoted as saying, accusing the government of handing weapons, including machetes and guns, to civilians on who support the government.

The unrest has fueled anxiety with residents fleeing the capital fearing a major clash should the rebels enter, while those still within the city are reporting food shortages.

The United Nations and the United States have said they were relocating their staff to neighbouring countries while CAR’s former colonial master, France, has deployed troops to protect its interests.

Last week demonstrators targeted the French embassy accusing the country of not helping Mr. Bozize’s government root out the rebellion.