CAR rebels cancel ceasefire ahead of Sunday’s vote

rfi– A rebel coalition in the Central African Republic has called off a three-day ceasefire ahead of Sunday’s general election. In a statement, the rebels said their decision was taken “faced with the irresponsible stubbornness of the government”.

The Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC), which began an offensive against the government a week ago, said it had “decided to break the 72-hour truce…and resume its unrelenting march towards its final objective”.

The ceasefire’s signatories “invited the authorities to observe the ceasefire over the same period” and called on President Faustin Archange Touadera to suspend Sunday’s general election.

But government spokesman Ange-Maxime Kazagui on Thursday dismissed the ceasefire, saying it was “a non-event” and that “we haven’t seen these people stop what they’re doing”.

The rebel coalition said on Friday the government had “cavalierly rejected” this “chance for peace”.

“Several attacks followed on positions occupied by the patriots of the CPC,” its statement said.

The authenticity of the statement was confirmed by two armed groups — the 3R and the Popular Front for the Rebirth of Central Africa (FPRC). General Bobo, the leader of 3R, told the AFP news agency that “now either the government disperses us, or we march on Bangui, which is our final objective”.

Fighting had resumed in Bakouma, about 250 kilometres east of the capital Bangui, according to Vladimir Monteiro, spokesman for the UN’s MINUSCA peacekeeping force.

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The CPC was created on December 19 by armed groups who accuse Touadera, the frontrunner in the Sunday’s election, of trying to fix the vote.

Its components are drawn from militia groups that, together, control two-thirds of the country.

At the weekend, the government accused Touadera’s ousted predecessor, Francois Bozize, of fomenting a coup with the rebels, a charge he denies.

Gunmen had sought to advance down the main highways towards Bangui, but were stopped, according to MINUSCA.

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