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Dialogue Needed Now In Central African Republic

Central African Soldiers patrol a street in Bangui, Central African Republic, January 1, 2013.

Talks in Gabon aimed at ending three-week old rebellion.

The government of the Central African Republic and an alliance of rebel groups challenging its authority have agreed to talks to be held in Gabon aimed at ending the three-week old rebellion.

Dialogue Needed Now In Central African Republic
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The alliance, known as Seleka, is comprised of fighters from as many as four rebel groups operating in the country’s north. They are demanding that President Francios Bozize fully implement peace accords signed in 2007 and 2011 that included paying rebel fighters to disarm and integrating them into the national army. The groups went on the offensive December 10 and by New Year’s were edging closer to the capital, Bangui.

President Bozize had demanded that the rebels withdraw from captured territory before his government would negotiate, but with the Seleka alliance approaching the capital he said he was willing to form a coalition government to address their grievances.

The United States encourages all of the parties to participate in the talks, to be held under the auspices of the Economic Community of Central African States. A new vision is needed of peace and security for the country, one based on inclusive dialogue, not armed conflict.

With the security situation dire in the Central African Republic, our Embassy in Bangui has suspended operations. The decision is temporary and due solely to security concerns. It has no relation to our continuing and long-standing diplomatic relations with the Central African Republic.

With the peace talks, we call on the government and rebel alliance to ensure the safety of civilian populations and urge all parties to allow for unhindered humanitarian access.