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Date: 2024-07-24 Page is: DBtxt003.php txt00003897

Country ... CAR
Rebel Initiative

CAR rebels warned against capital takeover ... The warning by multinational African force comes amid growing fear of a rebel attack on Bangui.

Burgess COMMENTARY
The Central African Republic (CAR) has valuable resources, a very poor population and a very rich small elite. I did not realize the severity of the wealth distribution until I was involved in an initiative to supply an aircraft to CAR for the use of the head of state ... nor did I realize the role of corruption in such transactions. It may not be a surprise, but we did not complete the transaction ... not for any technical reason, but simply because of the grand corruption at every stage of the process.

It is difficult to reform a corrupt society. The rich and powerful have too much at stake and they have much to fear from reform.
Peter Burgess

CAR rebels warned against capital takeover The warning by multinational African force comes amid growing fear of a rebel attack on Bangui.

The commander of the regional African force FOMAC has warned rebels in the Central African Republic against any attempt to take Damara, the last strategic town between them and the country's capital Bangui.

'Let it be clear, we will not give up Damara,' General Jean-Felix Akaga said on Wednesday.

'If the rebels attack Damara that would amount to a declaration of war and would mean that they have decided to engage the 10 central African states,' he told reporters in Bangui.

'I honestly don't think they will go that far.'

Akaga said Bangui was well secured by FOMAC troops and reiterated that Damara remained the last key government-controlled town before the capital located 75km away.

'The red line is Damara,' he said.

Peace talks

The rebels, who began their campaign a month ago and have taken several key towns and cities, have accused Central African Republic leader Francois Bozize of failing to honour a 2007 peace deal.

They said they had halted their advance on the capital on Wednesday and would start peace talks, averting a clash with regionally-backed troops in the mineral-rich nation.

The announcement gave only a limited reprieve for President Francois Bozize as the rebels told Reuters they might insist on his removal in the negotiations in Gabon's capital Libreville.

'I have asked our forces not to move their positions starting today because we want to enter talks in Libreville for a political solution,' rebel spokesman Eric Massi told Reuters by telephone from Paris.

'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.The landlocked nation of 4.4 million people is rich in diamonds, gold and uranium and yet remains one of the poorest countries in the world.

Central African Republic has suffered many army revolts, coups and rebellions since gaining independence from France in 1960.

The rebels behind the current instability signed a 2007 peace accord, but group leaders say the deal was not fully implemented.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

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