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President accuses Sudan of supporting rebels

Published Nov 8, 2006

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Bangui - Central African President Francois Bozize Wednesday accused his Sudanese counterpart of backing rebels who seized a north-eastern town of Birao last week, and vowed his troops would soon recapture the municipality.

"It isn't all the Sudanese, but only President (Omar al-)Beshir who wants to destabilise the CAR through bad faith," Bozize said, during a peace demonstration in Bangui organised by his supporters.

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A rebel alliance which earlier announced it had seized the northeastern town of Birao, called Friday for talks with the Central African government. The alliance, the Union of Democratic Forces for the Rally (UFDR), also said no civilians had been killed or mistreated while capturing the town more than a week ago.

Bozize's government has accused Sudan several times of backing the rebels, and called on France and the rest of the international community to help it retake the town, which lies close to the border with Sudan and Chad 800km north-east of Bangui.

Government supporters have also organized a series of "peace" demonstrations in the impoverished country - including Wednesday's rally in Bangui where protesters brandished banners proclaiming "No to war" and "Free Birao".

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"We don't want war," Bozize told the crowd. "And if there is war in this country (Sudan), we don't want it exported here. We want them to leave us alone!"

Even as he repeated demands for international assistance against the rebels, Bozize vowed the country's army would shortly retake control of Birao.

"If you see the military in your neighborhoods, tell them to go to Birao," Bozize told the protesters. "We must retake Birao!" - Sapa-AFP

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