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Central African Republic preps for peace talks as regional troops arrive

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While both the rebels and government have said they are serious about talking peace, observers are skeptical about what progress can be made.

What started out as a disagreement over poor conditions in the Army and unkept government promises quickly spiraled into a full-blown rebellion, as formerly opposing rebel groups came together.

As the rebels snatched town after town, Mr. Bozize – who himself seized power in a coup in 2003 – quickly went from bullish to desperate, sacking his son as defense minister, promising to form a unity government with the rebels, and saying he would not stand for reelection.

That, though, may not be enough, and the rebels have called for Bozize, whom they accuse of excluding opposition groups and monopolizing power, to go immediately.

“We should expect those talks to drag on as the negotiations agenda still needs to be defined, ” says Thierry Vircoulon, Central Africa project director at the International Crisis Group think tank. "Some issues such as the departure of the president raised by the rebels will be contentious and some of the parties may try to gain time."

Even if Bozize does eventually step down, the marriage of convenience between the rebels is shaky, and there is no guarantee that the alliance would not splinter.

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