New CAR leader, facing isolation, says no reprisals

The United States said on Saturday it did not recognise Djotodia, who toppled President François Bozizé on March 24 after leading thousands of his Seleka rebels into the mineral-rich nation's capital Bangui, triggering days of looting.

"I make a patriotic and brotherly appeal for our countrymen, who have chosen the path of exile, to return," the former civil servant turned self-declared president told several thousand cheering supporters near the presidential palace.

"There will be no witch hunt, because we must establish tolerance, dialogue and forgiveness," he said.

Though violence in the riverside capital has ebbed, Djotodia said looters would face justice and called for international help, particularly from former colonial master France.

But the takeover has been condemned internationally. The African Union suspended Central African Republic and imposed sanctions on Seleka leaders, including Djotodia, this week.

France and the United States say the rebels should adhere to a power-sharing deal signed in Gabon's capital Libreville in January that mapped out a transition to elections in 2016 in which Bozizé was forbidden from running.

Djotodia has pledged to act in the spirit of the agreement and said on Friday he would step down in 2016. But Washington on Saturday said Nicolas Tiangaye, named prime minister under the Libreville agreement, was now the only legal head of government.

"We strongly condemn the illegitimate seizure of power by force by the Seleka rebel alliance, Michel Djotodia's self-appointment as president, and his suspension of the Constitution and National Assembly," read a statement from State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland.

Bozize seized power in a 2003 coup but his failure to keep promises of power sharing after winning disputed 2011 polls led to the offensive by five rebel groups known as Seleka, which means "alliance" in the Sango language.

Emergency summit

A grouping of eight political opposition parties, including the one headed by Prime Minister Tiangaye, said on Saturday it rejected Djotodia's proposed three-year transition period and called for new talks to revise the Libreville agreement.

"After consulting among ourselves, we think that 18 months of transition would be reasonable in order to organise new democratic elections," the coalition's spokesperson Edouard Koyambounou told Reuters.

Chadian President Idriss Déby, chair of the 10-nation Economic Community of Central African States, will host a summit in N'Djamena on April 3 to discuss the crisis.

South African President Jacob Zuma has been invited and will attend the meeting, spokesperson Mac Maharaj said on Saturday.

The opposition in South Africa and analysts have asked why a South African military training mission suffered 13 deaths in Central African Republic last weekend as its members fought alongside government troops against rebels.

South African media suggested the soldiers were defending mining interests in a country rich in diamonds, uranium and oil, but Pretoria officials denied this. They say 400 troops were present due to a 2007 bilateral defence accord with Bozize.

On Friday, Djotodia, responding to questions about resource licences awarded to Chinese and South African firms by Bozize, said he would review resource deals signed by the previous government. – Reuters

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Guest Author

Related stories


Subscribers only

Q&A Sessions: Marcia Mayaba —Driven to open doors for women

Marcia Mayaba has been in the motor industry for 24 years, donning hats that include receptionist, driver, fuel attendant, dealer principal and now chief...

The war on women in video game culture

Women and girls make up almost half of the gaming community but are hardly represented and face abuse in the industry

More top stories

#SayHerName: The faces of South Africa’s femicide epidemic

This is an ode to the women whose names made it into news outlets from 2018 to 2020. It’s also a tribute to the faceless, nameless women whose stories remain untold.

Judges Rammaka Mathopo and Mahube Molemela among five candidates for...

Judges Fayeeza Kathree-Setiloane, Jody Kollapen and Bashier Vally complete the list, while Dhaya Pillay fails to make the cut

First sanitary pad vending machine in Africa aims to end...

A new invention by the MENstruation Foundation addresses the difficulty many schoolgirls face every month — not being able to afford sanitary products

A new era of vaccine sovereignty in Africa beckons

COMMENT: The AU has laid out a clear path for the continent to produce its own vaccines

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…