News / Africa

CAR Army Chiefs Pledge Allegiance to Coup Leader

Armed fighters from the Seleka rebel alliance patrol the streets in pickup trucks to stop looting in Bangui, March 26, 2013.
Armed fighters from the Seleka rebel alliance patrol the streets in pickup trucks to stop looting in Bangui, March 26, 2013.
Reuters
Central African Republic's army chiefs pledged allegiance to the country's self-proclaimed president Michel Djotodia on Thursday as the ex-rebel leader consolidated control four days after his fighters seized the capital.
       
Djotodia seized control of the resource-rich nation after thousands of his rebel fighters swept into the riverside capital Bangui on Sunday, ousting President Francois Bozize and triggering days of looting.

Seleka rebel leader Michel Djotodia.Seleka rebel leader Michel Djotodia.
x
Seleka rebel leader Michel Djotodia.
Seleka rebel leader Michel Djotodia.
"The former FACA [national army] officers wanted to meet with President Djotodia to tell him they recognize him as the new president,'' said Maurice Ntossui, a commander of the African peacekeeping force in the country who attended the meeting.
      
"All the former chiefs of police, gendarmes, the head of the armed forces and other senior officers came to the meeting. This was a form of surrender,'' he said.

At least 13 South African soldiers, among hundreds deployed to reinforce Bozize's army, were killed in the rebel onslaught in the worst military setback for Pretoria since the end of apartheid in 1994 and one which put a dent in any ambitions it has of becoming a continental superpower.

South African media and a senior Ugandan officer said South African soldiers gathered in Uganda on Thursday for a "new mission'' to Central African Republic.

"They were humiliated and they want to avenge,'' said the Uganda officer, who asked not to be named. South Africa's armed forces and defense ministry declined to comment.

A U.N. official in Democratic Republic of Congo said about 70 South African troops had been dispatched to the Congolese town of Gemena, 180 km from Bangui, but it was not clear what they were there to do.

A spokesman for the Seleka rebels said their leaders were struggling to restore calm in Bangui, a city of 600,000, where armed civilians were pillaging shops and homes. Seleka had asked police and other civil servants to return to work, he said.

Gunshot wounds

Seleka are fighters and they can't do police work,'' spokesman Colonel Youssouf Ben Moussa said. "We are trying to get our forces into their barracks ... It is true that there is still some looting but it is not our men.''

Medical charity Doctors Without Borders said 173 people had been taken to the town's one functioning hospital, most with gunshot wounds. Dozens were waiting to be operated on but the lack of running water and erratic power was impeding treatment.

There was sporadic shooting in parts of the city, but many shops and markets were reopening and traffic was returning as security slowly improved.

"Hunger can kill as well as bullets,'' said Marie Flore Boka, a 43-year-old civil servant on the streets buying food.

The overthrow of Bozize, who seized power in a coup in 2003, was the latest of many rebellions since the poor, landlocked country won independence from France in 1960. It was condemned by the United Nations and the African Union, which imposed sanctions and a travel ban on several Seleka leaders.
       
Seleka said they launched their offensive - in which they fought their way from the far north of the country to the presidential palace in four days - after the collapse of a power-sharing deal signed in January.
       
Witnesses, including among the scores of French expatriates being evacuated from Bangui airport on Thursday, said Seleka fighters went on a looting spree after taking the capital.

"They came into my hotel room and drew their weapons on me, demanding my money,'' said Yves De Moor, a French business owner. "One of them put a bullet into the chamber, which was a terrifying moment, and I gave them everything.''

You May Like

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More