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CAR Officials Say Recording is Proof of Military Coup - 2001-11-08

The government of the Central African Republic has presented what it calls evidence of a military coup against President Ange-Felix Patasse. The government has also arrested a parliamentary leader who it says was part of the alleged plot.

The government of the Central African Republic says it has a tape of a telephone conversation that shows former army chief, General Francois Bozize was preparing to topple President Ange-Felix Patasse. The general has denied the charge. However, aides to the president said they have made the evidence available to foreign governments.

General Bozize fled the capital, Bangui, on Wednesday, after government troops attacked and routed mutinous soldiers loyal to him. The rebels had opposed attempts to take General Bozize into custody.

General Lamine Cisse, a U.N. representative in the Central African Republic, insists he only received what the government says was a written transcript of the tape. VOA asked him whether, in the document, General Bozize spoke about overthrowing the government.

General Cisse said he read absolutely no such thing in the text. According to him, the transcript only showed the former army chief speaking by phone with a man in Brussels named "Jean-Pierre." General Cisse added that the two men spoke about what he called an unspecified "assistance problem."

Meanwhile, on Thursday, presidential spokesman Prosper Ndouba confirmed the arrest of Jean-Serge Wafio, a senior parliamentary official who belongs to General Bozize's ethnic Gbaya group.

The spokesman said Mr. Wafio, a vice president of parliament, was taken into custody for reasons which include his close ties with General Bozize.

Mr. Wafio's response to the charges are not known. Efforts to contact his family and friends were unsuccessful.

General Bozize was widely credited with helping Mr. Patasse put down three previous uprisings, in 1996, 1997, and last May.