* Decrees to free political prisoners, lift checkpoints
* Rebels say presidential decrees “too little, too late”
* No immediate signs of rebel military action
By Paul Marin Ngoupana
BANGUI, March 21 (Reuters) - Central African Republic’s SELEKA rebel group rejected concessionary decrees from President Francois Bozize as “too little, too late” and demanded on Thursday that he resign.
SELEKA spokesman Colonel Sylvain Bordas responded to state TV broadcasts on Wednesday announcing presidential decrees freeing political prisoners, lifting curfews and banning roadblocks manned by pro-Bozize militia.
“All we ask is for him to now leave power,” Bordas told Reuters. “If he does not do so, we will force him out.”
There were no immediate reports of clashes but tensions ran high in Bangui over a possible return to fighting which saw the rebels march to the gates of the capital in December.
Mineral-rich CAR’s current uprising is the latest in a long line of rebellions that have crippled the country since its independence from France in 1960 and the U.N. Security Council has voiced strong concern over the current situation.
As well as freeing political prisoners and removing checkpoints, the insurgents have demanded the departure of foreign troops, including some 400 South Africans.
They also sought government posts for their civilian and military leaders as part of a power-sharing deal.
The United Nations has condemned rebel attacks in a resurgence of violence in recent weeks and called on all sides to abide by the terms of the peace deal.
Regional nations dispatched troops to try and stabilise the country and helped facilitate peace talks.
In response to the rebel demands, Clayson Monyela, a spokesman for South Africa’s foreign ministry, said: “The troops are staying. They aren’t going anywhere.”
Central African Republic has rich deposits of gold, diamonds and uranium but it remains among the least developed countries in the world. Conflicts in neighbouring Chad, Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo have also undermined efforts to stabilise the country. (Additional reporting by David Dolan in Johannesburg; Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Paul Casciato)