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Central African Republic rebels advance
Rebels in the Central African Republic Dec. 25 seized the key city of Bambari—the country's third largest—as part of their new offensive. The rebels—known as the Seleka coalition—have seized several towns in the country's south in recent weeks, charging that President Francois Bozize has failed to uphold a 2007 peace deal. The Libreville Comprehensive Peace Agreement, signed with former rebel groups, called for the release of prisoners and compensation to ex-combatants. The renewed insurgents also oppose plans by Bozize to alter the constitution to seek a third term, according to a statement signed by Seleka secretary general Justin Mambissi Matar.
The Seleka coalition, launched in August, is made up of breakaway factions from three former armed groups: Nureldine Adam's Wa Kodro Salute Patriotic Convention (CPSK), Dhaffane Mohamed Moussa's Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP) and Michel Djotodja's Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR). The rebels demand that President Bozize, who gained power in 2003 through a coup and subsequently won elections in 2005 and 2011, honor the 2007 agreement and open an investigation into the disappearance of former CPJP leader Charles Massi.
Bozize has called in troops from neighboring Chad to back up government forces. An unknown number of Chadian troops are positioned at Sibut, the last remaining significant town between Bambari and the capital Bangui. Zones already under rebel control are rich in diamonds and gold. There are also significant iron ore reserves near Bambari but a planned mine is not yet operational.
23 diciembre. Al Jazeera
Rebels capture key CAR town of Bambari
Rebel fighters in the Central African Republic have seized the town of Bambari, the biggest prize yet in a push that has brought rebels to within 400km the capital, Bangui.
"Bambari has fallen. It is a disaster," Mylene Abissini, a customs officer resident in the town, told Reuters news agency on Sunday.
Local officials said government forces withdrew from the town, the country's third largest and the furthest south the rebel coalition has advanced, after two hours of fighting.
The rebels have extended gains south in recent days, ignoring an order by leaders from across Central Africa for them to withdraw from occupied areas and begin talks with the government in Bangui.
The swift rebel advance has highlighted how fragile the government's hold is on the land-locked nation, which has seen decades of instability since independence from France in 1960.
An unknown number of Chadian soldiers, dispatched to bolster Bangui's weak army, are positioned in Sibut, the last remaining significant town halfway between Bambari and the capital Bangui.
Zones currently under rebel control are rich in diamonds and gold.
There are also significant iron ore reserves near Bambari but the mine is not yet operational.
The Seleka rebel coalition is made up of a mix of fighters who complain that the government has failed to stick to a peace deal with previous rebel groups.
24 diciembre. Bloomberg
CAR Rebels Seize Ninth Town; African Leaders Urge End to Clashes
Rebels in Central African Republic captured a ninth town since resuming a rebellion on Dec. 10 to force the government to renegotiate a 2008 peace deal.
The fighters seized the town of Bambari, about 281 kilometers (174 miles) northeast of the capital, yesterday, Edouard Mathos, the bishop of the town, said in a phone interview. The northern towns of Ippy and Ndassima were taken by the rebel forces, known as Seleka, they said in a statement published on the website of Centrafrique-Presse, a news website.
At least two CAR soldiers have been killed and 25 have been captured since the rebellion began, Seleka said in a statement published in the Bangui-based Centrafrique Matin newspaper today. Seleka consists of the Democratic Front of the Central African People, the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Justice, the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity and the Patriotic Convention for National Salvation.
Rebel forces want the terms of the four-year-old, so-called Libreville Comprehensive Peace Agreement renegotiated after accusing President Francois Bozize of failing to implement terms of the accord. The renegade fighters also oppose plans by Bozize to alter the constitution to seek a third term, according to the statement published on Centrafrique-Presse and signed by Justin Mambissi Matar, secretary-general of Seleka.
The Economic Community of Central African States on Dec. 22 called for an end to hostilities and urged all parties to immediately enter talks, following a meeting of regional leaders in neighboring Chad. They also demanded that the rebels withdraw to their previous positions within a week.
Central African Republic was the world’s 12th-largest producer of rough diamonds by value in 2010, when output was 250,000 carats, according to data on the U.S. Geological Survey’s website. A carat is equal to a fifth of a gram. The country also produces gold and has undeveloped resources of copper, iron, manganese and uranium, the USGS said.