Seleka alliance has warned that they may ask for the president’s ouster
Rebels confronting the Central African Republic government over claims President Francois Bozize violated a previous peace deal, say they may not quit even when attended to, but may seek Mr. Bozize’s removal.
A regional-brokered peace talks between the Seleka alliance and the CAR government is to hold in nearby Gabon in an attempt to break a rapid three-week campaign that has seen the rebels sweep from the country’s north to just 75 kilometers of the capital, Bangui.
Mr. Bozize has vowed not to seek re-election in 2016, and on Sunday offered to form a coalition government with the rebels, an offer the rebels rejected saying he was not to be trusted.
Troops from Gabon, Congo and Chad have arrived in the capital to defend Mr. Bozize’s weak government.
The rebels said on Wednesday they were halting their advance on the capital to allow for the peace talks expected to commence January 10, Reuters news agency reported.
A spokesperson however said they may be tabling a condition at the talks requiring a political solution that excludes Mr. Bozize.
“I have asked our forces not to move their positions starting today because we want to enter talks in (Gabon’s capital) Libreville for a political solution,” spokesperson, Eric Massi, was quoted by Reuters as saying.
“I am in discussion with our partners to come up with proposals to end the crisis, but one solution could be a political transition that excludes Bozize,” he added.
But the proposal has been rejected by an unnamed government minister, quoted by reports as saying the presence of a regional force in the capital has left the rebels at a disadvantaged position.
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.
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 warned of sanctions should the rebels carry out their threat.
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.