UPDATE 1-CAR president says ready to form unity govt with rebels

Sun Dec 30, 2012 10:20am EST

By Ange Aboa

BANGUI Dec 30 (Reuters) - Central African Republic President Francois Bozize said on Sunday he was ready to form a coalition government with the Seleka rebel alliance and would step down after his term ends in 2016.

"I am ready to form a government of national unity with Seleka to run the country together, because I am a democrat," Bozize told a news conference following a meeting with African Union Chairman Thomas Yayi Boni in the capital Bangui.

He added that he was ready to attend peace talks being organised by regional leaders in Libreville, Gabon, "without condition and without delay".

A three-week Seleka rebellion has advanced to within 75 km (45 miles) of Bangui, posing the most serious threat yet to Bozize's nearly 10 years in charge of the turbulent and resource-rich former French colony.

A rebel spokesman said earlier in the day that fighters could enter Bangui as early Sunday night if Bozize refused to open direct talks with them.

Seleka, an alliance of three armed groups, accuses Bozize of failing to honour a 2007 deal under which members who laid down their guns were meant to be paid.