C.A.R Rebel Groups Reject Peace Deal

The alliance of Central African armed groups that control a large swath of the country will not make concessions to the government and UN troops in spite of the president’s call for national reconciliation, its spokesman said.

The naturally endowed country has been mired in sectarian violence since the ouster of President Francois Bozize in 2013.

Pro-Bozize militias clashed with the coalition forces, killing and displacing thousands.

Fighting was renewed after Muslim-backed President Faustin-Touadera narrowly won a new term in December.

Touadera and UN peacekeepers say Bozize is backing the rebels, although he denies it.

The president called for a return to peace after the nation’s top court certified his victory in mid-January.

“As long as Touadera continues calling us terrorists, warmongers and [saying] that he would continue fighting us in the extreme, that is not for peace, that is not for dialogue…

“We will continue our operations as previewed until successful completion,” Aboubacar Ali, a spokesman for the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC), said.

The coalition was formed in November from six major rebel groups and is in talks on adding another one.

The government and UN forces have recently won several victories against the militias, stopping them from choking off the capital Bangui, and recapturing the southern city of Bangassou.

Siddick Ali said that CPC was unfazed by this string of defeats and was not intimidated by the plans of the 13,000-troop UN peacekeeping force MINUSCA to bring in reinforcements, which were announced after seven peacekeepers were killed in clashes in less than a month.

“We don’t want to fight against MINUSCA, every time it is MINUSCA who search to fight and to create a clash… If they want to increase the number of troops, it’s their right.

“We have a mission to accomplish,” the CPC spokesman said.

Resurging violence has triggered another mass exodus, compounding an already severe refugee crisis.

Humanitarian organisations have been forced to suspend much-needed aid.

MINUSCA said it held Bozize and allied militias responsible for the “serious consequences on the civilian population.”

Siddick Ali argued that militias were not targeting civilians, in spite of the UN arguments to the contrary.

He said the alliance’s main goal was to bring democracy to the African nation and repair the country’s war-torn “social tissue.”

“CPC has an order not to touch civilians; we don’t want to go walking on the dead… We need to find a solution and have legitimate power,” he said.

Siddick Ali claimed that CPC had a large grassroots support, as only every other citizen could cast their vote in last month’s elections.

The country faces a no less tumultuous legislative election on Feb. 7.

“Those who support us are bigger in numbers than those who voted for Touadera… We will make him resign from his post and then organize a transition in order to well prepare for future elections.

“We will find a way for all the Central Africans to agree,” the spokesman said.

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