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'We will hold elections in three years' say CAR rebels

AFP

A spokesman for the Seleka rebels who have seized the capital of the Central African Republic told FRANCE 24 on Monday that they were supervising a return to calm in Bangui and would hold elections after a transition period of three years.

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The rebels who seized the capital of the Central African Republic on Sunday have said that they remained committed to a January power-sharing deal and would hold elections in three years in order to “return to democracy.”

Eric Massi, Europe spokesman for the Seleka rebel alliance, told FRANCE 24 on Monday that legislative and parliamentary elections would be held in three years. “Three years may sound like a long time, but it’s a short time to bring security back to the country and return to normal conditions,” he added.

Fighters from Seleka, which means "alliance" in the local Sango language, seized the presidential palace in the capital city of Bangui early on Sunday after their advance from the north of the country.

Pillaging and raids were reported overnight and gunfire could still be heard on Monday morning, according to witnesses. “There is no electricity nor public transport,” said Sylvain Groulx, head of the Doctors Without Borders mission in the Central African Republic.

The local head of Doctors Without Borders describes the dire situation in Bangui

Seleka spokesman Eric Massi confirmed the pillaging, saying that they had been carried out by rebels as well as armed men from the previous regime. He claimed that the rebels had been “overwhelmed” but that calm was returning and that the shots being heard on Monday morning were “joyous celebration.”

Seleka rebels began seizing towns across the country’s impoverished north in December but stopped their advance and signed a peace accord with the government following negotiations in Libreville, the capital of Gabon. That deal was to allow Bozizé to remain in power until 2016.

Massi repeated that the rebels remained committed to the agreement, and that Nicolas Tiangaye, Prime Minister of the national unity government, would remain in position until the end of the period of transition.

“Our goal is not to set a strict deadline but to establish a roadmap that respects the spirit of the agreements signed in Libreville [in January between President François Bozizé and the Seleka alliance], to return to democracy,” Massi said.

The African Union on Monday said it was suspending the Central African Republic and imposing travel restrictions and an asset freeze on the leaders of Seleka.

A declaration by the head of Seleka, Michel Djotodia, is expected later Monday.

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