C. African Republic Overthrown by Rebels

St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), March 25, 2013 | Go to article overview

C. African Republic Overthrown by Rebels


BANGUI, Central African Republic Rebels who invaded the capital two months after signing a peace agreement overthrew Central African Republic's president of a decade on Sunday, as fighters seized the presidential palace and declared him the country's former leader.

The rebels pushed further into the heart of the city, where they seized the presidential palace, according to witnesses and an adviser to longtime President Francois Bozize. Hours later they could be seen traveling in trucks through the town.

Former colonial power France confirmed the developments, issuing a statement that said French President Francois Hollande "has taken note of the departure of President Francois Bozize."

"Central African Republic has just opened a new page in its history," said a communique signed by Justin Kombo Moustapha, secretary-general of the alliance of rebel groups known as Seleka.

"The political committee of the Seleka coalition, made up of Central Africans of all kinds, calls on the population to remain calm and to prepare to welcome the revolutionary forces of Seleka," it said.

Central African Republic, a nation of 4.5 million, has long been wracked by rebellions and power grabs. The president himself took power in 2003 following a rebellion, and his tenure has been marked by conflict with myriad armed groups.

The rebels reached the outskirts of Bangui late Saturday. Heavy gunfire echoed through the city Sunday as the fighters made their way to the presidential palace, though the country's leader of a decade was not there at the time. …

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