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Central African Republic: Rebel forces Advance…

Central Africa

Francois Bozize, the embattled Central African Republic president, has urged the United States and France to help push back rebel forces who have advanced towards the capital Bangui.

“We are asking our cousins the French and the United States, which are major powers, to help us push back the rebels to their initial positions in a way that will permit talks in Libreville to resolve this crisis,” Bozize told a crowd at a main square in Bangui on Thursday.

French President Francois Hollande had said earlier on Thursday that French soldiers stationed in its former colony would not be used to defend Bozize’s government.

The rebels already have seized at least 10 towns across the sparsely populated north of this deeply impoverished country, and residents in the capital of 600,000 people now fear the insurgents could attack at any time.

As this developed, the United Nations announced it is pulling its non-essential staff from the country.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman, Martin Nesirky, issued a statement saying Ban “strongly condemns the armed attacks on several towns in the Central African Republic perpetrated by the coalition of rebel groups ‘SELEKA’.”

The US has also urged its citizens to leave the country, the AFP news agency reported, as France deployed a protection force around its embassy after it was attacked on Wednesday.

Angry protesters carrying clubs threw rocks at the French embassy, criticising the former colonial power for failing to do more to stem a rapid rebel advance.

The demonstrations began earlier in the day outside the US embassy before about 100 protesters then took to the French embassy, carrying pieces of cardboard with messages that read: “No to war! No to France!”

Speaking to Al Jazeera, UN Envoy Margaret Vogt said people in the capital are “nervous,” but added that “we have been through this cycle several times before.”

Vogt also added that the UN “does not have the capacity to intervene in any way other than what we are doing.”

–More to come!

Source: Agencies

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