Central African Republic president, Bozize, flees as rebels take over

François Bozizé, Photo: eliesmith.blogspot.com

After months of tension and fighting, the CAR government has been overthrown.

Central African Republic President Francois Bozize has fled his post after the country’s Seleka rebels overrun state forces to take CAR’s coast side capital, Bangui.

Seleka group, involved in an on- off confrontation against Mr. Bozize’s government for years, advanced barely 75 kilometers of the capital in January before accepting a regional-brokered peace with conditions its be made part of the government and its fighters be integrated into the government force.

Representatives of the group were indeed made part of the government. But the rebels recently accused Mr. Bozize of violating terms of the agreement by not integrating the militias.

Fighting erupted last week after weeks of tension.

Despite the presence of foreign forces, including soldiers from South Africa and Cameroun, sent in during the first clashes to help protect the capital and Mr. Bozize’s regime, the rebels swiftly overran the defences and by Saturday evening, entered Bangui.

At least five South African soldiers were killed by the rebels as they advanced. South Africa says it was preparing to withdraw its forces when they suffered casualties.

After a brief lull in fighting on Saturday, the rebels took presidential palace Sunday morning. Mr. Bozize was not found.

Government officials have confirmed he escaped, but it is yet unclear where he fled to. The Congolese government has confirmed 25 members of his family arrived in Congo on Saturday.

There are fears of reprisals against those who defended the ousted regime. Mr. Bozize took power in 2003 through coup also.

But the takeover has raised concerns about another round of military dictatorship and instability in the restive region.

Justin Kombo Moustapha, secretary-general of Seleka, appealed for calm and called on citizens to “welcome the revolutionary forces of Seleka”.

“Central African Republic has just opened a new page in its history,” he said in a statement.

Nelson Ndjadder of Seleka’s CPSK faction said the country should now move into a transition towards democratic elections.

“With the taking of Bangui and the departure of Bozize, the main objective of our struggle has been realised,” he said.

“Central Africans must meet around a table to decide the path for their common future.”

Former colonial power, France, sent in more than a hundred troops to protect Bangui’s airport where her nationals can travel through if conditions deteriorate.

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