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African Union Rejects New Central African Republic Leader

Michel Djotodia, center, rebel leader who declared himself president, arrives for meetings with government armed forces, Bangui, Central African Republic, March 28, 2013.
The African Union has rejected Michel Djotodia as leader of the Central African Republic (CAR) after his Seleka rebel group seized power and forced President Francois Bozize to flee.

El-Ghassim Wane, spokesman for the African Union Peace and Security Commission, says the AU is working with its international partners to help resolve the current situation in the 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," said Wane.

"We are calling for the immediate restoration of constitutional order," continued Wane, "but also for the respect and strict implementation of the Libreville agreement, which provides an avenue and a framework for peacefully dealing with the challenges at hand."

Djotodia suspended the constitution and will rule by decree, following a coup that ousted President Bozize after 10 years in office.

Djotodia named a new government and set elections for 2016. The rebel leader also declared himself interim president and announced that Nicolas Tiangaye will retain the post of prime minister.

The African Union has suspended CAR from the organization and has begun targeted sanctions against seven senior leaders of the Seleka rebel group, including Djotodia.

"We are working on a more exhaustive list of Seleka leaders to be affected by sanctions that would be submitted shortly to our Peace and Security Council," said Wane. "We intend to take additional measures to, indeed, ensure that the objectives being pursued by the AU are attained in the shortest possible time."

Some analysts have called on the AU Peace and Security Council to consider military action to remove Djotodia and his Seleka rebels from power.

"We will continue mobilizing support from within the international community, [UN] Security Council, European Union to see to it that the objectives being pursued are achieved as quickly as possible," said Wane.

Regional leaders plan to hold a special summit of the Economic Community of Central African States to discuss developments in the CAR.

"The AU will be attending the summit and our expectation is that the summit will help advance the AU objective and AU principles of total rejection of the action of Seleka leaders, and the call for immediate restoration of constitutional order," said Wane.

"The action by Seleka any prospect for peace, security, stability, democracy, good governance and development in CAR. … There is therefore need for the people of Central African Republic to remain united, and to do whatever they can to facilitate the restoration of constitutional order and the implementation of the Libreville agreement,” he concluded.
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