Rebels enter Central African Republic capital

Rebels enter Central African Republic capital
# 23 March 2013 19:59 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. The Seleka rebel coalition on Saturday afternoon entered Bangui, the capital of Central African Republic, APA reports quoting Xinhua.

South African troops in Bangui for the military training of local soldiers were quickly retreated to the Presidential Palace in the city, where power supply has been cut off for hours.

Rebels fought within miles early Saturday after claiming control of Bossangoa and Damara, 75 km from Bangui, to reach the gate of the capital the previous day.

Citizens heard weapon fire when rebels were approaching the north of the city bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo across a river.

Seleka launched a lightening blitz this week after giving the government a deadline to honor a peace deal signed in January to release political prisoners, integrate rebels into the national army and pull out South African and Ugandan troops deployed in the country to protect the Bangui-based government.

The five-faction rebel coalition swept through a large part of the country in its southward push to Bangui since launching an insurgency on Dec. 10, 2012.

The rebels accused President Francois Bozize, who came to power in 2003, of failing to implement a series of peace accords signed in the Gabonese capital Libreville since 2007.

With the mediation of regional countries, the rival sides again went to Libreville on Jan. 11 to sign another agreement to end the crisis.

At the time, Seleka fell short of attacking Damara, where troops from the Economic Community of Central African States (CEEAC) were deployed Bangui and advancing rebels.

The country of 5 million population has been gripped by instability and poverty since its independence from France in 1960.

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