(File image) Central African Republic President Francois Bozize

Bangui - Rebels in the Central African Republic have given the government until midnight on Tuesday to free political prisoners jailed in a December insurgency, an official for the group said on Tuesday.

Colonel Djouma Narkoyo of the Seleka rebel coalition said President Francois Bozize had been given 48 hours to meet demand, but did not specify the potential repercussions if he didn't.

“They're asking us to withdraw our elements in regard to the disarmament, but nothing is done by the (ruling) power when it comes to the prisoners,” Narkoyo said.

The rebels on Sunday declared they would not withdraw their fighters unless the government released the prisoners and South African soldiers leave the country.

Narkoyo said the ultimatum was launched by a high-ranking rebel-member known as General Arba who has accused Bozize of breaking a peace pact struck between Seleka rebels and the Central African government on January 11 to end a month-long insurgency.

Seleka, an alliance of three rebel movements, launched an assault on December 10 in the country's north, accusing Bozize's regime of failing to comply with previous peace pacts that promised jobs to demobilised rebels.

Last month's power-sharing agreement gave the opposition and the rebel coalition several key posts in the new government. Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye has since been in charge of a programme to disarm and demobilise the rebels.

According to Narkoyo, General Arba has taken up position with his men at Vangue, 25km from the key town of Damara which is 75km north of the capital Bangui. - Sapa-AFP