Rebels in Central African Republic could enter the capital Bangui as early as "tonight, or tomorrow morning" and are still not committed to peace talks that regional leaders are trying to organise, a spokesman said on Sunday.
African Union Chairman Thomas Yayi Boni is due to meet CAR President Francois Bozize on Sunday afternoon to lay the groundwork for talks with the rebels meant to take place in Gabon in early January.
"We are waiting to see what comes out of today's meeting between Bozize and ... Yayi Boni before we make a final decision," SELEKA rebel spokesman Nelson Ndjadder said by telephone from France. "We could march into Bangui tonight or tomorrow morning," he said.
Ndjadder confirmed that the rebels had positions about 75 kilometres (45 miles) outside Bangui following a swift advance from the country's northwest since early December.
The rebel onslaught has highlighted the instability of a country that has remained poor and turbulent since independence from France in 1960 despite rich deposits of uranium, gold and diamonds. Average income is barely over $2 a day.
With a government that holds little sway outside the capital, some parts of the country have long endured the consequences of conflicts spilling over from troubled neighbours Chad, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.