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CAR Coup Leader Strengthens Grip on Power

  • VOA News

Michel Djotodia, the rebel leader who declared himself president in Bangui, Central African Republic, March 28, 2013.

Michel Djotodia, the rebel leader who declared himself president in Bangui, Central African Republic, March 28, 2013.

The leader of last month's coup in the Central African Republic (CAR) says he will serve as both president and defense minister.

Michel Djotodia, whose rebel forces overthrew President Francois Bozize, made the announcement in a decree read on state radio late Sunday.

Members of Mr. Djotodia's Seleka rebel coalition will hold a number of other ministries. Nicolas Tiangaye - an opposition leader who joined the previous government as part of a power-sharing deal - remains as prime minister.

The African Union, which has already suspended CAR, denounced the latest move.

El-Ghassim Wane, spokesman for the AU Peace and Security Commission, told VOA that the African Union is calling for the immediate resumption of constitutional order in CAR.

"We totally reject the act that has been taken by Seleka, that of course, includes the illegal decision by the head of Seleka to proclaim himself as president of the republic, to remain in power and to usher in a so-called transitional period."

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland also criticized the developments in the Central African Republic.

"We were very concerned as of Saturday that the rebels would take steps to try to take care of governance going forward, and in a manner that was not democratic, that was not transparent. They have done exactly that," said Nuland.

Also Monday, in South Africa, the main opposition Democratic Alliance party said it will lodge a parliamentary motion to force the government to withdraw its troops from CAR. Thirteen South African soldiers died during the March coup, as they attempted to block the path of thousands of rebel fighters who poured into the CAR's capital, Bangui.

The Central African Republic has experienced a series of coups since gaining independence from France in 1960. Decades of conflict and mismanagement have left the country's people poor, despite the fact it has major deposits of gold and diamonds.
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