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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid