I Will Rule by Decree, says Rebel Chief
BANGUI, March 26, 2013(CISA) -Central African strongman Michel Djotodia has dissolved the country’s institutions and declared transitional rule a day after a bloody coup that has drawn international condemnation.
The former diplomat turned rebel leader, whose Seleka coalition took over the capital Bangui in a rapid-fire weekend assault, announced late on Monday March 25 that he would rule by decree until elections are organized in three years.
Earlier on Monday, the African Union suspended the coup-prone landlocked nation from its membership and the European Union condemned the coup as “unacceptable”.
The 15-member UN Security Council emerged from an emergency meeting on the crisis called by former colonial power France to condemn the coup. But while it threatened “further measures”, it made no explicit threat of sanctions.
Already late on Sunday, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned Seleka’s power grab and called for “the swift restoration of constitutional order”.
Djotodia announced the suspension of the constitution, as well as the dissolution of parliament and the government late on Monday in Bangui.
“During that transition period which will lead us to free, credible and transparent elections, I will legislate by decree,” he told reporters.
Earlier on Monday, in an interview with Radio France Internationale, Djotodia made it clear he would not rule out running in polls he promised for 2016.
The power change in Bangui came after a lightning offensive that shattered a January 11 power-sharing deal between the old regime and Seleka.
Francois Bozize, the ousted president, who himself seized power in a 2003 coup fled the country over the weekend and on Monday he was in Cameroon. But the authorities there said he would be moving on “to another host country”.
The Seleka rebels were initially welcomed by residents waving palm leaves in celebration, but the mood quickly darkened as looters took to the streets.
With Bangui still without electricity or radio on Monday, it was difficult to assess casualties from the weekend’s fighting. But 13 South African soldiers were killed in the fighting, the nation’s heaviest post-apartheid military loss.
As well as suspending Bangui from its membership the African Union announced “sanctions, travel restrictions and an asset freeze on Seleka’s leaders” naming seven individuals including Djotodia.
According to AFP, ousted president Bozize never delivered on his promises to harness the oil, gold and uranium wealth that has remained largely untapped since independence from France in 1960.
The Central African Republic, despite its mineral riches, remains woefully underdeveloped thanks in large part to chronic political instability.
Meanwhile, Rt Rev DieudonnĂ© Nzapalainga, Archbishop of Bangui has called for the protection of the population and its property. “We are again in a difficult moment in which the population is shunted from right to left, my first thoughts go to those who have lost their lives,” he said.
The Archbishop launched an appeal to the executives of Seleka to avoid the sectarian drift. “It is time to put an end to these actions that could provoke in people’s minds anti-religious sentiments or that might suggest that this crisis has as its objective the Christians.”
“It is necessary that priests, pastors and imams are protected. I speak for everyone. Men of God should be protected. This crisis is political, we cannot let it take a religious drift ” concluded Archbishop Nzapalainga.