Central African Republic rebels push into capital

AFP-JIJI

Rebels in the Central African Republic said they had advanced into the capital, Bangui, ignoring a call by the country’s prime minister for talks in order to avoid a “bloodbath.”

“We call on the population to stay at home, on the FACA (Central African Armed Forces, the country’s military) not to fight, and on President (Francois) Bozize to leave,” Paris-based rebel spokesman Eric Massi said Saturday.

Fighters from the Seleka rebel coalition had pushed their way to the gates of Bangui following the collapse of a 2-month-old peace deal. On Saturday, they said they had moved past the PK12 checkpoint that effectively marks the entrance to the city.

France, the country’s former colonial ruler, has called for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council to discuss the deteriorating situation, said Romain Nadal, a spokesman for the president’s office. Paris had not issued an evacuation order, but the estimated 1,250 French nationals in CAR were advised to remain at home.