CAR rebel alliance issues ultimatum to government

Paul-Marin Ngoupana
Reuters Middle East

* CAR rebels attack mining town on Tuesday

* Rebels demand government implement 2007 peace deal

* Instability has hit investment in resource-rich nation

BANGUI, Dec 18 (Reuters) - An alliance of rebel groups

behind a spate of recent attacks in Central African Republic has

threatened to overthrow President Francois Bozize if he fails to

fully implement a five-year-old peace deal.

The resurgence of attacks risks plunging the minerals-rich

but unstable nation, where a number of rebel groups have fought

low-level insurgencies since 2005, into another spiral of


The rebel alliance - made up of breakaway factions from the

CPJP, UFDR and CPSK rebel groups in the north of the country

which signed a peace treaty with the government in 2007 - said

the government must fully implement the terms of that deal.

In a statement issued on Monday, the alliance demanded,

among other things, that the government pay rebel soldiers money

promised to them to lay down their weapons and free political


"Otherwise ... (the alliance) will take it upon itself to do

everything possible to change, sooner or later, this regime

which has done nothing to bring justice and peace to the Central

African Republic. Enough is enough," it said.

Early on Tuesday, the rebels raided Bria, a mining town with

a population of about 40,000 which lies some 600 km (360 miles)

from the capital Bangui.

"Fighting started about 5 a.m. today. We were woken by heavy

gunfire. Most of the population started fleeing. The military

base seems to be in the hands of the rebels," Bria's Mayor

Moussa Gouman told Reuters by telephone as gunfire could be

heard in the background.

Authorities in the capital declined to comment.

On Sunday, the rebels attacked government soldiers sent to

retake the town of Ndele in the north of the country which was

seized on Dec. 10.

"Our troops were ambushed by the rebels on (Sunday) night.

Forty of them are unaccounted for as we speak," a CAR army

captain told Reuters, requesting not to be named.

"Two of our vehicles loaded with weapons, ammunition and

fuel supplies for our men were also seized by the rebels," he


Instability in landlocked CAR, roughly the size of France,

its former colonial power, has discouraged major investment in

its timber, gold, uranium and diamond deposits.

A 2006 advance by the nearly 3,000-strong UFDR on Bangui was

only halted with the intervention of French armed forces before

the peace deal was signed in April 2007.

The CPJP embarked on a separate rebellion with about 1,000

soldiers before agreeing a ceasefire, but most of the rebel

groups remained armed.

A mix of local rebels, bandits, ethnic tensions and the

spillover of conflicts from neighbouring Chad, Sudan and

Democratic Republic of Congo have undermined efforts to

stabilise the nation which has suffered misrule since

independence in 1960.

President Bozize took power in a 2003 coup and won a new

mandate in January 2011 elections, which were dismissed by

opponents as fraudulent.

(Additional reporting and writing by Bate Felix; Editing by

Robin Pomeroy)

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes