CAR rebel head Michel Djotodia to review mining deals

Seleka rebels look around the pillaged office of deposed president Francois Bozize in Bangui on March 28, 2013. Michel Djotodia's Seleka rebels have looted the presidential palace

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The rebel now in charge of the Central African Republic has said his government will look into mining contracts signed with South African and Chinese companies by the ousted leader.

Michel Djotodia said the new authorities would reconsider any deal that had been "badly done".

Meanwhile the Red Cross says it has found 78 bodies in the capital, Bangui, since last weekend's seizure of power.

President Francois Bozize has asked for asylum in Benin, it has been announced.

Michel Djotodia: Serial rebel

Michel Djotodia (7 January 2013)
  • Civil servant in the government of Ange-Felix Patasse, overthrown by Francois Bozize in 2003.
  • Appointed by Mr Bozize to a diplomatic post in Sudan
  • Falls out with Mr Bozize and launches a rebellion in 2005
  • Arrested a year later in Benin, where he was exiled
  • Released after promising to make peace with Mr Bozize, but re-launches rebellion
  • Appointed defence minister in January 2013 under peace deal
  • Quits government in March and seizes power

He initially fled to Cameroon.

Benin's Foreign Affairs Minister Nassirou Arifari Bako told the Associated Press news agency that Mr Bozize had asked for asylum but "nothing has been decided yet".

The former president was said to have been a close ally of South Africa, which sent about 200 soldiers to help protect the capital earlier this year.

Thirteen South Africans were killed as the rebels marched into Bangui last weekend.

Red Cross official Albert Yomba Eyamo on Friday told AFP news agency that the 78 bodies had been taken to mortuaries by volunteers.

"We ask the population to come to these sanitary institutions to identify the bodies with a view to taking them away for burial," he said.

The head of the only functioning hospital in Bangui said it was still receiving about 30 wounded people a day.

Hospital director Romain Guitinzia told the BBC that because of a lack of electricity, some of the bodies in the morgue have started to decompose.

"I worry there will be public health problems," he said.

CAR has large deposits of minerals including gold and diamonds but decades of conflict and mismanagement have left its people among the world's poorest.

At the same news conference where Mr Djotodia announced the mining reviews, also said he would ask former colonial power France to help retrain its army.

Mr Djotodia has said he would legislate by decree until holding elections in three years' time.

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