C. Africa Rebels Threaten Capital Despite President’s Unity Offer

Posted December 31st, 2012 at 10:00 am (UTC-5)
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Rebels in the Central African Republic not backing down from their threat to invade the capital, despite President Francois Bozize's offer to form a unity government.

Fighters for the coalition of three rebel groups, known as Seleka, were holding position about 75 kilometers outside of Bangui Monday after seizing the town of Damara days earlier. In the last three weeks, the rebels have captured about a third of the country, including several major cities.

After meeting with African Union chief Thomas Yayi Boni on Sunday, President Bozize said he was willing to join with the rebels in governing the country. But the media quoted representatives for the rebel alliance Monday as calling for outside intervention in the crisis and accusing President Bozize's government of persecuting political foes in Bangui.

The C.A.R. is a former French colony, and Paris normally has about 250 troops stationed there as part of a peacekeeping mission. In recent days, the French government has increased that number to nearly 600, but it insists they are only there to protect France's interests and nationals and not intervene in the war.

The rebel coalition accuses Mr. Bozize of failing to honor a 2007 agreement that included provisions that its fighters would be reintegrated and paid after laying down their arms in a previous uprising.