Central African Republic Peace Talks Open in Gabon

Posted January 9th, 2013 at 10:50 am (UTC-5)
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Peace negotiations are underway between rebel delegates, government officials and opposition leaders from the Central African Republic.

Wednesday's talks in the Gabonese capital, Libreville, are aimed at ending a month-long rebellion which has seen fighters from the Seleka rebel coalition seize about one-third of the country's territory.

Congolese Foreign Minister Basile Ikouebe said at the opening of the talks that the presence of all three sides signaled a willingness of the country's political actors to reach a solution.

“I have asked that during this period everyone is reserved and restrained,” he said, “and it's in this framework that we will start our negotiation work and without doubt before the heads of state we will sign a cease fire agreement.”

The Seleka coalition is made up of fighters from three main rebel groups in the north that say the government did not uphold peace accords signed in 2007 and 2008.

C.A.R. President Francois Bozize has resisted the group's calls for him to step down but has said he is willing to form a coalition government.

In recent days, rebel fighters have moved to within 100 kilometers of the capital. A multi-nation African force has formed a so-called “red line” in the town of Damara and warned the rebels not to advance any further.