Bozize seeks temporary refuge in Cameroun

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

The ousted president managed to get out of Central African Republic amid fierce fighting at the weekend.

One of the Seleka rebel leaders, Michel Djotodia, said yesterday he considered himself to be the new head of state.

But another rebel leader told reporters his group did not recognised Djotodia as president, and says they will challenge his attempt to install himself at the helm. The move raises the specter of continuing unrest, amid reports of chaotic and violent looting in the capital, Bangui.

The United States is "deeply concerned about a serious deterioration in the security situation" in CAR, said US. State Department spokes personVictoria Nuland said in a statement last Sunday.

"We urgently call on the Seleka leadership which has taken control of Bangui to establish law and order in the city and to restore basic services of electricity and water," the statement said.

Meanwhile, South Africa said 13 of its soldiers were killed in a fight against the Seleka rebels at the weekend as up to 3,000 fighters attacked its troops while advancing through the capital, Bangui. It was one of South Africa's heaviest losses in combat in nearly two decades and prompted criticism about why the country's forces had intervened in such a volatile conflict.

South African forces who were there to aid Bozize's troops suffered casualties when they "fought a high-tempo battle for nine hours defending the South African military base, until the bandits raised a white flag and asked for a cease-fire," South African President Jacob Zuma said. "Our soldiers inflicted heavy casualties among the attacking bandit forces."

Gen. Solly Shoke, South Africa's military chief, said 3,000 rebels took part in fighting. He said the assailants were armed with mortars and heavy machine guns.

Following Bozize's ouster, divisions are already emerging over who will lead the country.

In Paris, Nelson N'Jaadder, the president of the Revolution for Democracy, one of the rebel groups belonging to the Seleka rebel coalition which invaded the capital, said that his fighters do not recognise Michel Djotodia, who earlier claimed he was head of state of Central African Republic.

N'Jaadder said there was never a consensus around appointing Djotodia as their overall leader.

"We do not recognise him as president," N'Jaadder told The Associated Press by telephone from Paris. "We had agreed that we would push to Bangui in order to arrest Bozize and that we would then announce an 18-month transition, a transition that would be as fast as possible — and not one that would last three years," he said.

"For your information, I have enough soldiers loyal to me to attack Djotodia. I am planning to take the Wednesday flight to Bangui."— AP