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