African Union: Rebels Should Hold Elections Sooner in CAR

04 Apr 2013

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Central African Republic rebel leader Michel Djotodia


Rebels who seized power in Central African Republic should consider holding elections in one year not three to speed up the return to democratic rule, a senior official from the African Union said on Wednesday.

African leaders including South African President Jacob Zuma are meeting in Chad's capital N'Djamena to hash out a regional response to the coup.

Thousands of insurgent fighters, who accused the government of failing to honour past peace agreements, stormed Central African Republic's crumbling riverside capital Bangui on March 24, ousting ex-president Francois Bozize.

African and Western leaders have so far condemned the rebellion in the mineral-rich former French colony. The African Union suspended Central African Republic and imposed sanctions on rebel chief Michel Djotodia while Washington said he was not a legitimate leader, reports Reuters.

But officials at the emergency summit in Chad said heads of state there would be deciding whether they ought to find ways to work with Djotodia, who has proclaimed himself president, or isolate him further.

Djotodia has already tried to contain international condemnation by creating a transitional government headed by civilian Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye and promising elections in three years.

"The best transitions are those that are short," the African Union's commissioner for peace and security Ramtane Lamamra, told Reuters ahead of the closed-door meeting.

"There have been other examples in Africa where just a year was needed to return to constitutional order. We think this is possible, but it is left to the Central Africans to decide," Lamamra said.

The country's opposition has rejected the new government, saying it is stacked with Djotodia allies.

Tiangaye, the man just named as prime minister, is expected to attend the N'Djamena summit while Djotodia remains in Central African Republic.

A spokeswoman for Djotodia said she hoped the new leadership in Bangui would get regional backing.

"What we want is support from the African Union and ECCAS (the 10-nation Economic Community of Central African States) for all of our plans to restore peace in the country ... We need legitimacy," said Anne Victoire Yakossobe.

The summit is being held by ECCAS and includes a delegation led by South Africa's Zuma.

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