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RFI, FRANCE 24 (France), AL JAZEERA (Qatar), AAP (Australia), MAIL&GUARDIAN (South Africa)

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BANGUI – After rebels in the Central African Republic ousted President François Bozize, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared Monday that he was “deeply concerned by reports of violations of human rights.”

Michel Djotodia, the leader of the Seleka rebels, declared himself president on Sunday and pledged to keep a power-sharing government in place, reports Al Jazeera.

In an exclusive interview, Djotodia told Radio France Internationale that he would respect the terms of a peace deal signed in January, which provides for free and fair elections within three years.

The Seleka rebels resumed hostilities last week after they accused Bozize of reneging on the terms of a peace accord, reports the AAP Australian news agency.

According to witnesses, pillaging and raids were reported overnight and gunfire could still be heard on Monday morning, reports France 24.

Thirteen South African soldiers were killed in clashes with the rebels reports the Mail&Guardian. South African troops have been stationed in the Central African Republic since 2007 to contribute to peace and stability in the region. “It is a sad day for our country,” said South African President Jacob Zuma. “This will not deter us from going ahead with peace and democracy,” he said.

In his statement Monday, Ban Ki-moon condemned the seizure of the presidential palace in the capital of Bangui, and called for the “swift restoration of constitutional order.”

The January peace deal allowed Bozize to remain in office until 2016, established a government of national unity led by Nicolas Tiangaye, a prominent opposition figure, and provided for the release of political prisoners – a demand the rebels claim has not been met. Djotodia told RFI that Tiangaye would stay on as Prime Minister.

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(photo: UNDP)

Ousted President Bozize, himself seized power in a coup in 2003. His legacy after a decade in power is corruption and poverty, despite abundant natural resources that include uranium, gold and diamonds. The country has been unstable since its independence from France in 1960, says the AAP.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Along The "New Border" Of Ukraine, Annexation Has Just Doubled The Danger

Vladimir Putin announced the annexation of Ukrainian territories in a ceremony in the Kremlin. In a village just a few kilometers away from what is now the Ukraine-Russia "border" in Putin's eyes, life continues amid constant shelling and the fear of what comes next.

Ukrainian soldiers are stationed in the village of Inhulka, near Kherson.

Stefan Schocher

INHULKA — The trail leads over a gravel road, a rickety pontoon bridge past a checkpoint. Here in the remote village of Inhulka near Kherson in southern Ukraine, soldiers sit in front of the village shop. Inside, two women run back and forth behind the counter, making coffee, selling sausages, weighing tomatoes. "Natalochka, where are the cookies," calls a dark-haired lady across the room.

But Natalochka, her colleague, is about to lose her nerve. "What kind of life is that?" she says, finally reaching up to grab the cookies from the top of a shelf. What kind of life can it be, she asks, when something is constantly exploding next to you and you don't know if you'll wake up in the morning.

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Inhulka is the center of a rural community. 1,587 inhabitants, as the village chief says, one school, one kindergarten, one doctor, two stores. Since March, nothing here is as it used to be. That was when the Russian army came to the village.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

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