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National unity plea to factions

The leader of the African Union, Benin's President Thomas Boni Yayi, has proposed a government of national unity to resolve the rebel conflict in Central African Republic.

Mr Boni Yayi arrived to try to find a negotiated resolution to the country's crisis.

The president of the African Union met with President Francois Bozize and then made an appeal to the rebels.

"I beg my rebellious brothers, I ask them to cease hostilities, to make peace with President (Francois) Bozize and the Central African people," said Mr Boni Yayi at a press conference in Bangui, the capital.

"If you stop fighting, you are helping to consolidate peace in Africa. African people do not deserve all this suffering. The African continent needs peace and not war."

Mr Boni Yayi said that Mr Bozize had pledged to have an open dialogue with the rebels with the goal of establishing a government of national unity, which would include representation from the rebels and the Bozize government.

Mr Bozize also addressed the conference and said, although he plans to stay in power until his term ends in 2016, he is not against having the rebels enter a coalition government with him.

"We'll probably be able to set up a national unity government. I apologise to the suffering Central African people," said Mr Bozize. "It is a message of peace to my brothers of Central African Republic," said Mr Bozize.

The African Union's leader arrived in Bangui when many feared there would be a fight over the capital, a city of 600,000. According to several families in Bangui, members of the Presidential Guard have kidnapped people suspected of supporting the rebels who have seized 10 cities in the country's north over the past three weeks.

A rebel spokesman, Colonel Juma Narkoyo, warned Mr Bozize: "We warn the head of state and his family to stop abducting our parents. They have nothing to do with it. If he wants to solve its problems, he comes to meet us on the ground. We expect firm feet." He said that a dozen people have already been arrested in Bangui.


From Belfast Telegraph