The rebels poised on the outskirts of the Central African Republic’s capital, Bangui, were on time for peace talks due to start on Monday.
Their delegation arrived in neighbouring Gabon
but the combined government and opposition peace delegation trying to end the crisis got no further than Bangui airport. A “technical problem” meant the flight was cancelled.
They are now expected in Libreville today. Last month the Seleka alliance of bush guerillas, exiles and political dissidents waged a lightning campaign taking much of the north of the Central African Republic, including a dozen major towns and cities.
Their Christmas advance on the capital sparked panic.
“Whether it’s government, the democratic opposition, or the rebels, we are all fighting to build a constitution for our country that everyone respects. Therefore this is what we will discuss and I believe that we are, each and every one of us, good democrats, and that everyone will see the government’s arguments are sound,” said the head of the government delegation Willy Biro Sako.
The rebels have refused an invitation to join a coalition government and the president says he will go at the end of his current term. The rebels want President François Bosize out now, and an immediate “transition of power”.