August 19, 2013

CAR: Seleka leader becomes new president

Michel Djotodia, the former leader of Seleka rebel coalition, has been sworn in as the new president of the Central African Republic (CAR).
Former rebel leader Michel Djotodia takes the oath during a swearing-in ceremony in capital Bangui on August 18, 2013.
Former rebel leader Michel Djotodia takes the oath during a swearing-in ceremony in capital Bangui on August 18, 2013.

In a ceremony held in capital Bangui on Sunday, Djotodia swore the oath on the Transition Charter, which has replaced the country’s constitution since the ouster of former President Francois Bozizé.

“Today’s swearing in is an important stage in the future of the Central African Republic and I hope I am the last of my countrymen to have to take up arms in order to come to power,” Djotodia said, adding, “I will do everything to ensure I come out of this transition praised and with my head held high.”
The new president also promised “to preserve the peace, to consolidate national unity (and) to ensure the well-being of the Central African people.”

A recent UN report blamed the Seleka fighters for much of the chaos in the country, saying, “uncontrolled Seleka elements and unidentified armed groups” in the country committed “arbitrary arrests and detention, sexual violence against women and children, torture, rape, targeted killings, recruitment of child soldiers and attacks.”

In July, the International Federation for Human Rights said at least 400 murders by Seleka-affiliated groups had been documented since March.

On January 11, Bozizé and representatives of the Seleka rebels signed an agreement in Libreville, Gabon, after three days of negotiations brokered by regional neighbors.

However, the deal fell through, and Djotodia, leading thousands of Seleka rebels, captured Bangui and proclaimed himself president after seizing power from Bozizé on March 24.

The Seleka fighters launched an offensive against the CAR government in December 2012.

There are many mineral resources, including gold and diamonds, in the Central African Republic. However, the country is extremely poor and has faced a series of rebellions and coups since it gained independence in 1960.

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