AFP on News24, photo: iStock
Bangui - The Central African Republic's interim government on Sunday branded senior rebel figure Nourredine Adam "public enemy No 1" after he threatened to block elections later this month in areas under his control.
His Patriotic Front for the Renaissance of Central Africa (FPRC), a splinter faction of the former Seleka rebel group that staged a coup in 2013, is staging an armed revolt in the north and east of the country.
In a statement to AFP, the government said Adam "opposes holding the referendum and the presidential and legislative elections in areas placed illegally under his control, areas which he believes will form part of his so-called Logone Republic.
"This decision constitutes an act of war and should be treated as such," the communique said. Central Africa's army has not been operational since the start of the crisis.
In wanting to create the "illusory partition of the Central African Republic", Adam has become "public enemy No 1 of unity, peace and national reconciliation," it said.
"How is it possible that Nourredine Adam, who has been sanctioned by the UN, is still able to move around freely?" the government asked.
Nearly 11 000 UN peacekeepers are deployed in Central Africa alongside 900 French soldiers.
In May 2014, the UN Security Council ordered sanctions against three CAR leaders, including Adam, the Seleka militia's number two, for their part in driving factional bloodshed between Muslims and Christians.
The country's former president Francois Bozize was overthrown in a 2013 rebellion by rebels from the mainly-Muslim Seleka force, triggering the country's worst crisis since it won independence in 1960.
Since the end of September, Adam has been based in the northern Kaga Bandoro region along with 500 to 700 armed followers.
"A return to constitutional order will only happen through the ballot box," the government said on Sunday, urging Central Africans "not to give in to fear".
A first round of legislative and presidential elections will take place on December 27, with the vote shaping up to be a major test of the country's progress in its political transition following the violence, which was triggered by a 2013 coup.
Ahead of the vote, there will be a referendum on a proposed new constitution on December 13 in what is widely seen as a dress rehearsal for the elections.