Central African rebels hold ministers
18 March 2013, 18:21
Bangui - Central African rebels were on Monday holding five
ministers - who joined the country's unity government from rebel ranks after a
peace deal - and threatened to resume hostilities if their demands were not
met, officials said.
The five had travelled to the city of Sibut, north of the
capital Bangui, as part of a delegation to meet representatives of the Seleka
rebel coalition to discuss the application of the peace deal, Security Minister
Josue Binoua told AFP.
Rebel Colonel Djouma Narkoyo said the insurgents were
demanding that the government make good on the promises it made in the deal
clinched two months ago in Libreville.
"We are giving the government 72 hours to respond to
these demands, failing which Seleka will resume hostilities," he told AFP.
The five ministers being held include some of the leading
members of Seleka.
Seleka has remained critical of the government since joining
it, threatening to pull out of the power-sharing deal, accusing President
Francois Bozize of running a parallel cabinet and so far balking on the key
issue of troop billeting.
It has also demanded the release of political prisoners.
The January peace accord mediated by regional leaders
provided for a new government of national unity, which was formed and is now
led by a member of the opposition, Nicolas Tiangaye.
The deal ended a month-old Seleka offensive that quickly
swept through the country's north and was stopped thanks in part to Chadian
military intervention before the rebels could threaten Bangui.
But the peace pact has been fragile.
On Sunday the United States said it was concerned about an
uptick in violence in the Central African Republic, and said the treaty's
signatories "should therefore act within this political framework and
refrain from acts that undermine it."
Last week, four Central African soldiers were killed on Monday
in a rebel assault on a southern town.