Central African Republic coup leaders 'must remain calm'

Rebels in the Central African Republic are reported to have seized the presidential palace, Richard Forrest reports

Related Stories

France has urged restraint on coup leaders in the Central African Republic, who have stormed the capital and overthrown the president.

French President Francois Hollande, who has sent hundreds of troops to Bangui, said the rebel fighters must respect the people.

Mr Hollande confirmed that President Francois Bozize had fled CAR. He is believed to be in DR Congo.

The rebels had demanded he step down, saying he broke several agreements.

They launched an initial rebellion in December, saying that the government had not honoured a 2007 peace deal whereby fighters who surrendered would be paid.

Archive photo of CAR President Francois Bozize, January 2013 Francois Bozize came to power in a coup in 2003

After weeks of fighting in which tens of thousands were displaced, the rebels agreed to join a power-sharing government.

But earlier this week the rebellion flared up again over their demands that political prisoners be freed.

They seized the capital quickly, and Mr Bozize fled early on Sunday.

Widespread looting

Nelson Ndjadder, a spokesman for one of the factions that make up the Seleka coalition, said CAR could now move into a transition towards a democratic election.

"With the taking of Bangui and the departure of Bozize, the main objective of our struggle has been realised," he said.

"Central Africans must meet around a table to decide the path for their common future."

Mr Hollande said all parties should "remain calm and hold talks on a national unity government".

He urged the armed groups to "respect the population".

France, the former colonial power, said it was sending more troops to Bangui to bolster its force of 250 already there, saying they would protect French citizens.

Health workers in the capital say the city is in chaos, with their work being hampered by frequent power cuts.

Map showing CAR

The Red Cross said hospitals were struggling to cope with the flow of people injured in the fighting.

Amy Martin of the UN's humanitarian agency OCHA told the BBC that looting was widespread.

"The situation in town is chaotic... even a paediatric hospital we understand has been looted," she said.

South African peacekeepers, in CAR to support government troops, suffered casualties but failed to stop the rebel advance.

Ms Martin said the peacekeepers were now planning to leave the country.

Mr Bozize is believed to have fled across the border to the Congolese town of Zongo.

He came to power in a coup in 2003, but won subsequent elections in 2005 and 2011.

CAR, which has a population of about 4.5 million, has been hit by a series of rebellions since independence from France in 1960.

It is one of the poorest countries in Africa, despite its considerable mineral resources.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Africa stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • Stained glass of man with swordFrance 1 England 0

    The most important battle you have probably never heard of


  • Golden retriever10 things

    Dogs get jealous, and nine more nuggets from the week's news


  • Pro-Israel demonstrators shout slogans while protesting in Berlin - 25 July 2014Holocaust guilt

    Gaza conflict leaves Germans confused over who to support


  • The emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-SabahFreedoms fear

    Growing concern for rights as Kuwait revokes citizenships


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • CastleRoyal real estate

    No longer reserved for kings and queens, some find living in a castle simply divine

Programmes

  • Leader of Hamas Khaled MeshaalHARDtalk Watch

    BBC exclusive: Hamas leader on the eagerness to end bloodshed in Gaza

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.