Exclusion drives C. African Republic revolt, France steers clear

Mon Jan 7, 2013 4:29am EST
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* Rebel push forces President Bozize to power sharing talks

* Isolation, neglect have fuelled rural rebellions

* History of French military meddling is over - Hollande

* Future of Bozize, general of Bokassa's empire, is unclear

By Pascal Fletcher

JOHANNESBURG, Jan 7 (Reuters) - The French dubbed it the neglected "Cinderella" of their African colonial empire; modern observers have called it a "phantom state".

Landlocked, isolated and poverty stricken despite reserves of gold, timber, uranium and gemstone quality diamonds, Central African Republic has been racked by rural rebellions for more than a decade.

In the latest flare-up, loosely-allied insurgents, demanding an end to years of exclusion from government, closed in on the capital Bangui over Christmas and the New Year, forcing President Francois Bozize to agree to talks about his future.   Continued...