Central Africa’s Prime Minister on Saturday called for talks with rebels who have advanced to within striking distance of the capital to “avoid a blood bath” in the coup-prone country.

The call comes as the Seleka rebel coalition has pushed its way to the gates of Bangui following the collapse of a two-month-old peace deal in the country, plagued by instability since independence from France in 1960. “The Prime Minister [Nicolas Tiangaye] asks our brothers of the Seleka to get in touch with the national unity government to find a peaceful solution and avoid a blood bath,” said a spokesman.

Early Saturday afternoon, the rebels were less than 30 kmaway from Bangui. To reassure residents of Bangui, where news of the rebel advance has led scores to flee, their Paris-based spokesperson Eric Massi said the Seleka leadership was calling on all forces — both rebel and government — to maintain “order and discipline”. — AFP