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Peace plan for Central Africa offered

BANGUI, Central African Republic — The leader of the African Union, Benin’s President Thomas Boni Yayi, proposed a government of national unity on Sunday to resolve the rebel conflict in Central African Republic.

Boni Yayi, who arrived in the capital city of Bangui Sunday, met with President Francois Bozize and then made an appeal to the rebels.

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‘‘I beg my rebellious brothers, I ask them to cease hostilities, to make peace with President Bozize and the Central African people,’’ said Boni Yayi. ‘‘If you stop fighting, you are helping to consolidate peace in Africa. African people do not deserve all this suffering. The African continent needs peace and not war.’’

Boni Yayi said that Bozize had pledged to have an open dialogue with the rebels with the goal of establishing a government of national unity, which would include representation from the rebels and the Bozize government.

Bozize also addressed the conference and said, although he plans to stay in power until his term ends in 2016, he is not against having the rebels enter a coalition government with him.

‘‘We’ll probably be able to set up a national unity government. I apologize to the suffering Central African people,’’ said Bozize.

The African Union’s leader arrived amid fears there would be a fight over Bangui, a city of 600,000.

According to several families in Bangui, members of the presidential guard have kidnapped people suspected of supporting the rebels, who have seized 10 cities in the country’s north over the past three weeks.

“We warn the head of state and his family to stop abducting our parents,’’ said a rebel spokesman, Colonel Juma Narkoyo.

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