News in brief

Ivory Coast: 61 people killed in New Year’s eve stampede

A state of mourning has been declared in Ivory Coast after a stampede killed at least 61 people at a New Year’s Eve event in Abidjan.

An investigation is being carried out into the cause of the stampede, which happened as people were leaving a fireworks display. Many of those killed are reported to have been children.

Although the cause is yet to be confirmed, some reports have alleged that a group of thieves carrying knives triggered panic in the crowd.

CAR: Rebels cease Bangui advance

The Seleka rebel group has announced it is stopping its advance on the Central African Republic capital Bangui, and is willing to enter peace talks. The rebels have already taken control of several key locations throughout the country, including the important diamond mining town of Bria. Earlier this week the rebels captured the city of Sibut after government forces withdrew.

Government forces have been bolstered in recent weeks by additional troops from neighbouring Chad, Gabon and Cameroon, who agreed to support CAR via the Fomac multinational force. In December France sent over 100 soldiers to protect its nationals, but it has joined the United States in refusing to provide military support to the CAR government.

Seleka says it now wishes to enter peace negotiations, but it has ruled out President Bozize’s offer to form a unity government.

Democratic Republic of Congo: UN sanctions M23 rebels

The United Nations Security Council has imposed sanctions – including asset freezing and travel restrictions – on the leaders of the M23 rebel movement in DRC.

The move comes as neighbouring Rwanda joins the Security Council for a fixed two-year term. The UN and DRC have alleged that Rwanda has supported the rebels, an accusation it denies.

Over 700,000 people have been displaced by fighting between the M23 and the army.

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