Rebels Violently Overthrow Central African Republic Government; President Francois Bozize Flees to Democratic Republic of Congo

by Colonel on March 24, 2013

“The president of the Central African Republic has fled the country’s capital and rebels have seized control of the city, a government official said Sunday.

President Francois Bozize crossed into the Democratic Republic of Congo, said Jules Gautier Ngbapo, a spokesman for the government’s territorial administration minister. He declined to disclose Bozize’s location Sunday.

“The Central African Republic has just opened a new page in its history,” said a written statement from Justin Kombo Moustapha, secretary general of the Seleka rebels.

The statement described Bozize as the country’s former president and urged residents of the landlocked country to remain calm and prepare themselves to welcome rebel forces.

Some South African soldiers were killed in clashes, according to a statement from the office of French President Francois Hollande. South African officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

” — Catherine E. Shoichet, Holly Yan and Nana Karikari-apau, Copyright 2013 Cable News Network

“Graeme Wood … has called it “a black hole of governance at the center of the continent.” He wrote, in 2010, “Since declaring independence from France in 1960 it has served up a veritable tasting menu of African despotisms: military dictatorships, civilian kleptocracies, and even an ‘empire,’ complete with an emperor on a golden throne.” These very bad governments — bad both in the sense of being incompetent and of being unkind to its citizens — have helped spur lots of rebel movements, including the one that seized the capital earlier this week.

Sub-Saharan Africa has seen some astounding gains over the last generation or so. The politics are becoming more democratic, the economies are booming, arts and culture are flourishing (not that they weren’t before) and even the conflicts are less frequent and less costly than they used to be.

But not the Central African Republic.

” — Max Fisher, Copyright 2013 The Washington Post Company

“The [self-declared emperor Jean-Bedel] Bokassa era ended in 1979, when he was overthrown in a coup led by David Dacko and backed by French commandos. …

After just two years in office Mr Dacko was toppled by Andre Kolingba, who eventually allowed multi-party presidential elections and was … rejected in the first round.

Mr Kolingba’s successor, Ange-Felix Patasse, had to contend with serious unrest. …

When [France] pulled out, there were fears of a power vacuum, so Paris financed a group of French-speaking African countries to create a peacekeeping force. That force was then transformed into the UN Mission to the Central African Republic, or Minurca.

In 1999 Mr Patasse beat nine other candidates to become president again, but there were allegations of electoral fraud. He was overthrown in a coup in 2003.

Some progress towards stabilising the country was made between 2008 and 2012.

” — Copyright 2013 BBC

“The rebel groups in the coalition — Seleka means “alliance” in the country’s Sango language — were signatories to the 2008 Libreville Comprehensive Peace Agreement with the government.

Since September, however, dissident factions of the main signatory rebel groups have banded together as Seleka.

The alliance is made up of factions of the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity, the Wa Kodro Salute Patriotic Convention and the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace.

The fighters of these groups are ex-mutineers and former militiamen from earlier rebel movements hailing mainly from the north in the chronically unstable country.

Seleka numbers between 1,000 and 2,000 fighters. …

The Central African army has at most 3,500 men.

” — Copyright 2013 AFP

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