Central African Republic extends state of emergency for 6 months

·2-min read
Rebels attack Central African Republic capital

BANGUI (Reuters) - Central African Republic (CAR) has extended a state of emergency for six months as it combats rebel groups, the government said on Friday.

The CAR army, backed by United Nations, Russian and Rwandan troops, has been battling rebels who are trying to overturn a Dec. 27 election in which President Faustin-Archange Touadera won re-election.

The state of emergency, initially declared on Jan. 21, allows the military to detain suspects without going through a prosecutor.

"The government asked the National Assembly (to extend it), and it accepted," government spokesman Ange Maxime Kazagui said.

"We are in a state of war, and we need this legal instrument to conduct investigations, search for people, find out who is financing this war, and more," he said.

More than 200,000 people have fled the violence that erupted around the election, with nearly half crossing into the Democratic Republic of Congo.

CAR has struggled to find stability since a 2013 rebellion ousted former president Francois Bozize.

The latest crisis was sparked by a court decision to bar Bozize from the December election, prompting attempts by a coalition of rebel groups known as the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC)to disrupt the vote.

There have been no major attacks in the last several weeks, but tensions remain, according to the U.N. peacekeeping mission MINUSCA, which has about 12,000 troops in the country.

On Thursday MINUSCA reported that a convoy of 100 trucks carrying food and medicine for U.N. humanitarian agencies was blocked on the main road through which all imported goods and humanitarian aid arrive by land from Cameroon.

The convoy is still stopped as MINUSCA works to secure the route, said mission spokesman Vladimir Monteiro on Friday.

Another convoy was attacked on the same road in January.

(Reporting by Serge Leger Kokpakpa; Additional reporting and writing by Nellie Peyton; Editing by Angus MacSwan)