Central African Republic threatened by rebel advance on capital


Protesters in the Central African Republic demand France intervene to stop rebels advancing on the capital Bangui. President Francois Bozize (pictured above) has called on the international community to put down the rebellion.


Beafrika Sango

Protesters in the Central African Republic are demanding France intervene to stop rebels advancing on the capital Bangui.

Rebels have been taking towns in the north of the country, coming as close as 47 miles from the capital as of Wednesday.

Hundreds of protesters descended on the French embassy, burning the flag and throwing stones.

Paris did not say if it would intervene in the civil war, but did say that it would take steps to protect its embassy. It has also urged its citizens to leave the country.

The United Nations also said that all non-essential staff would be evacuated given the worsening security situation, said BBC.

Seleka, a coalition of rebel forces, said that it had captured 10 towns this month when the new rebellion began. They have said they plan to depose President Francois Bozize, who seized power in a coup in 2003, if he refuses to negotiate with them, reported AFP.

The group signed a peace accord with the government in 2007 but they claim that it has not been properly implemented. Rebel Col. Djouma Narkoyo told the Associated Press that they had captured the towns because of government attacks on their positions.

“Our intention is not to take Bangui,” he said, when reached by phone by the news agency. “We still remain open to dialogue.”

Reuters said that residents of the capital, which has about 600,000 residents, are skeptical of the rebels' intentions.

Several armies have been deployed in the desperately poor country to block the rebel advance and try to bring stability. Chad has 150 soldiers in the country as a part of a multinational stabilization force known as MICOPAX.

The Central African Republic has faced numerous rebellions since its independence from France in 1960. The mineral-rich country is home to about five million people and is considered by the UN one of the least developed countries in the world.