Central African’s President Pledges Talks to End Conflict

Central African Republic President Francois Bozize
Central African Republic President Francois Bozize pledged to form a government of national unity and to step down when his term ends in 2016, he said in comments broadcast on state-owned Radio Central. Photographer: Sia Kambou/AFP/Getty Images

Central African Republic President Francois Bozize pledged to hold talks with rebel groups to end a conflict as they advanced on the capital Bangui.

After meeting yesterday with African Union leader Thomas Boni Yayi, who is also president of Benin, Bozize said he is ready to go to Libreville in Gabon to meet with representatives of the rebel group known as Seleka. Bozize pledged to form a government of national unity and to step down when his term ends in 2016, he said in comments broadcast on state-owned Radio Central.

Rebel forces say Bozize hasn’t complied with the terms of a peace agreement in 2007 and oppose his plans to seek a third term in office. They took up arms on Dec. 10, capturing more than 10 towns including Sibut, about 180 kilometers from Bangui.

France sent about 150 more troops to Bangui yesterday to support a peace-keeping mission and help protect the 1,200 French citizens living in the Central African Republic capital. The U.S. embassy in the Central African Republic suspended operations last week.

Eric Massi, a spokesman for Seleka, told France24 the group will hold talks with Yayi to study the details of Bozize’s plan.

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