A rebel leader in the Central African Republic has declared an autonomous state in the north, after rejecting elections meant to stabilize the country.
A spokesman for Noureddine Adam, who heads a faction of the Seleka militia group, said Tuesday that the "Republic of Logone" was proclaimed December 14th in the town of Kaga-Bandoro.
Adam has his headquarters in the town, located about 250 kilometers north of the capital, Bangui.
The rebel spokesman, Mauloud Moussa, said, "What we want first of all is autonomy. Then we'll look at how to move toward independence."
Men carry a woman who passed out as heavy gunfire was directed towards the Baya Dombia school where voters had gathered to cast ballots in a constitutional referendum, in Bangui, CAR, Dec. 13, 2015.
CAR residents are waiting for the results of a referendum on a new constitution. Most voters went to the polls Sunday, but polling was extended to Monday in a few areas because of election-day violence. The Red Cross said clashes in Bangui on Sunday killed five people and injured at least 20.
Adam had called for cancellation of both the referendum and the upcoming presidential election set for December 27.
The CAR slid into chaos when the mostly Muslim Seleka overthrew President Francois Bozize in March 2013. Adam was security minister in the government formed by the rebels' leader, Michel Djotodia.
Djtodia stepped down in early 2014 as the mainly Christian anti-balaka militia battled Seleka and launched reprisal attacks against Muslim civilians. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims have fled their homes and neighborhoods for safer areas.
Adam is currently on US and UN sanctions lists for obstructing peace in the CAR.