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CAR rebel leader welcomes national reconciliation

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Jan 29, 2007 (BANGUI) — A rebel leader in the Central African Republic welcomed moves towards national reconciliation after he last week held talks for the first time with President Francois Bozize.

Abdoulaye Miskine, who met Bozize on January 25 in Libya, said in a statement sent from Tripoli that the talks had been "a step towards national reconciliation" and urged Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi to go on "working for the happy outcome of a peace accord".

Bozize on Sunday said his talks with Miskine and former government minister Andre Ringui Le Gaillard left "some details to reconcile points of view and allow our country to recover peace and focus on our development".

Miskine, who had been a top military aide to toppled president Ange-Felix Patasse who was ousted by Bozize in a March 2003 coup, presented himself as the head of general staff of a rebel coalition including the Union of Democratic Forces for the Rally (UFDR).

The UFDR in November took a series of towns in attacks launched from the northeast of the desperately poor and landlocked country, before being beaten back in an offensive in which France provided military and logistic help to the Central African army.

Miskine comes from neighbouring Chad to the north and led an army special forces unit under Patasse, who was overthrown while on a foreign trip after a decade of rule marked by military unrest, political turbulence, strikes and economic woes.

According to Miskine’s statement, the talks in the Libyan port town of Sirte on the sidelines of a summit of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (Cen-Sad) took place "in the presence of Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno."

Both the CAR and Chad saw renewed outbreaks of rebel insurgency by shifting alliances of movements from late October and the two heads of state blamed this activity on Sudan, whose strife-wracked Darfur region has a joint border with their two countries.

After putting down the UFDR attacks, Bozize’s troops have been up against the People’s Army for the Restoration of the Republic and Democracy (APRD), a movement that claimed responsibility for several attacks on towns in northwest CAR between late 2005 and early 2006.

The APRD was blamed for a January 15 attack repelled by government troops in the northwestern town of Paoua, a year after the last such raid.

Ringui is reputedly close to the APRD, while Miskine’s name has come up each time there has been insurgency under Bozize, who oversaw a political transition period then won elections in 2005, but faces an uphill task dealing with armed movements, bandit groups and highwaymen in northern parts of the CAR.

Bozize gave few details of his talks with the rebel leaders, but said Sunday that they had been held with a view to "recovering peace".

"Thanks to the support of the Libyan authorities, the Cen-Sad leaders and (Chadian) President Idriss Deby Itno we have had discussions with the rebels, and more importantly with Abdoulaye Miskine and the former minister Ringui," the president said in a national radio broadcast.

(AFP)

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