Home | News    Sunday 26 November 2006

Two Central African rebel chiefs arrested

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Nov 25, 2006 (BANGUI) — Police in the west African state of Benin have arrested two rebel leaders from the Central African Republic (CAR), whose forces are waging a violent offensive in their home country, a legal source in the Benin capital Cotonou said.

The leader of the rebel Union of Democratic Forces for Unity, Michel Am Non Droko Djotodia, and his spokesman Abakar Sabone, were apprehended in Cotonou, the same official said.

"We received an international arrest warrant from the Bangui tribunal which we acted upon," he said, on condition of anonymity. "Michel Am Non Droko Djotodia and Abakar Sabone were arrested and detained in Cotonou," he added.

The CAR government welcomed the news.

"The Centrafrican presidency is delighted by these arrests," CAR presidential spokesman Cyriaque Gonda told AFP. "Benin refuses to serve as a rear base for the destabilization of a brother country," he added.

"We are waiting for instructions about the extradition which should soon take place," the judicial source in Benin said.

"The procedure is underway," Gonda said.

The arrests follow a series of inquests opened by the Bangui prosecutor’s office into "plots, rebellion, assassinations, murders, coups and physical injury, breaches of national security and criminal conspiracy" by UFDR leaders, the judiciary source in Benin said.

The legal victory is timely for the CAR government, which has as yet been unable to stop the advance of the UFDR rebels in northeastern CAR where they launched an offensive on October 30, seizing several towns and villages.

They have continued advancing, killing government troops and forcing thousands of people to flee. Military officials say rebels are now threatening the mining town of Bria, 600 kilometres (375 miles) northeast of Bangui.

Benin lies thousands of kilometres west of the CAR, which borders the volatile states of Chad and Sudan to the north. Bangui accuses Sudan of backing the UFDR offensive, a charge which Khartoum denies.

Foreign peacekeepers including forces from France and countries of the six-nation Central African Economic and Monetary Community are deployed in CAR to help stabilize the country in the face of the rebel attacks.

The former French colony is one of Africa’s poorest countries and the government of President Francois Bozize has a weak grip on the unstable north.

(AFP)

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