Rebels in Central African Republic take 3 towns
A rebel group that signed a peace accord with the government of the Central African Republic announced Wednesday that it had taken three towns in the country's north, in a move that is intended to force the state to review the six-year-old accord.
Reached on his satellite phone in the distant north of the country, rebel spokesman Col. Narkoyo said the government had failed to uphold its end of an April 13, 2007 deal, which was to provide amnesty and integration into the regular army for fighters belonging to the rebel Union of Democratic Forces for Unity, known by its French acronym of UFDR.
"I confirm that the towns of Ndele, Sam Ouandja and Ouadda are under the control of the UFDR," said Col. Narkoyo, who refused to give anything except his last name. "It's now six years since we signed a peace accord with the government. But nothing has been done to help us out of our miserable state. We want the government to tell us what is the status of the peace accord?"
He said that his fighters had won control of the three remote towns on Monday, taking several prisoners from the retreating Central African army. He said they also seized a military vehicle mounted with a heavy machine gun.
The Central African Republic's army confirmed that the three towns had fallen to the rebels. In a statement read late Tuesday on state radio, the minister of defense said the towns, including Ndele, the most important of the three, were seized by the UFDR rebels on Monday.
The army is sending two contingents of soldiers to try to take back the towns. Ndele, located near the Chadian border is an important crossing point for convoys coming from Sudan and Cameroon. It was the scene of violent clashes between the rebels and the army in 2007 and 2010.
The country in Central Africa remains among the poorest on the continent and racked by repeated rebellions.
Michel Ndjotodia, the founder of the UFDR, returned from exile in Benin last October. He set up his base in Boromata, near Birao, located over 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) north of the capital, Bangui.