CAR

Central African Republic: Bozize to transform rebel group into political party

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NAIROBI, 30 January (IRIN) - The Central African Republic's (CAR) leading rebel, Francois Bozize, intends to transform his movement into a political party, Jeune Afrique L'intelligent, a Paris-based magazine, reported on the Internet on Tuesday. The party is to be called the Rassemblement des patriotes pour un renouveau en Centrafrique, the weekly reported.
Bozize, who is exiled in France, is "collaborating with" the Coordination des patriotes centrafricains - an umbrella of exiled opposition groups led by Karim Meckassoua. In the short term, L'intelligent reported, this coalition was demanding negotiations with CAR President Ange-Felix Patasse and a general amnesty for the rebels. In the medium term, the coalition wants a transitional government formed and for Patasse to declare formally that he will not run for office at the end of his term in 2005.

However, addressing to the nation on 10 January, Patasse said there would be no general amnesty. A general amnesty for the 28 May 2001 coup plotters (led by former President André Kolingba) and Bozize's supporters is one of the preconditions the internal and exiled opposition has set for participating in a national dialogue Patasse has proposed. In his speech, Patasse said the dialogue would lead to recommendations being made, but these would not be binding.

Bozize, the immediate former army chief of staff, has been at war with the government since November 2001, when judicial authorities sought to arrest him for questioning about his alleged links with Kolinga's failed coup.

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