CAR rebel head Djotodia names caretaker government

Central African Republic rebel leader Michel Djotodia greets supporters in Bangui (30 Mar 2013) The self-proclaimed president addressed hundreds of supporters on Saturday

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The rebel leader who has declared himself president of the Central African Republic has announced a caretaker government in which he controls several ministries.

Michel Djotodia, who says he will run the country until elections in 2016, was greeted by hundreds of supporters in the capital, Bangui, on Saturday.

A week ago, he ousted President Francois Bozize, who fled the country.

Rebel fighters swept into Bangui after the collapse of a power-sharing deal.

The deposed president initially went to Cameroon before seeking asylum in Benin.

Michel Djotodia: Serial rebel

Michel Djotodia (7 January 2013)
  • Civil servant in the government of Ange-Felix Patasse, overthrown by Francois Bozize in 2003.
  • Appointed by Mr Bozize to a diplomatic post in Sudan
  • Falls out with Mr Bozize and launches a rebellion in 2005
  • Arrested a year later in Benin, where he was exiled
  • Released after promising to make peace with Mr Bozize, but re-launches rebellion
  • Appointed defence minister in January 2013 under peace deal
  • Quits government in March and seizes power

The make-up of the interim administration was broadcast in a decree on national radio.

Nicolas Tiangaye, an opposition figure who became prime minister under power-sharing accords signed in January, was to remain in the post.

Another eight members of the former opposition would also be in the 34-member cabinet, AFP news agency reported.

Mr Djotodia, the self-proclaimed president, would act as defence minister while several members of his Seleka rebel coalition would run other ministries.

One cabinet member had been close to the ousted president, AFP said.

At a rally on Saturday, CAR's new leader addressed supporters as his supporters paraded through the capital, firing into the air.

"I hope to be the last rebel chief president of Central Africa," he said in a speech quoted by AFP.

The rebels over-ran Bangui last weekend, in a move condemned by the United States as "illegitimate".

On Friday, the Red Cross said 78 bodies had been found. Thirteen South African soldiers lost their lives. They had been part of a 200-strong force fighting an estimated 3,000 rebels in the battle for Bangui.

South African newspapers reported on Sunday that some of the rebels whom the soldiers had been fighting were teenagers.

"It was only after the firing had stopped that we saw we had killed kids," one paratrooper told South Africa's Sunday Times.

The rebels had joined a power-sharing government in January after talks brokered by regional leaders to end a rebellion they launched last year.

But the deal quickly collapsed, with the rebels saying their demands, including the release of political prisoners, had not been met.

CAR, which has a population of about 4.5 million, has been hit by a series of rebellions since independence from France in 1960.

The country has large deposits of minerals including gold and diamonds but decades of conflict and mismanagement have left its people among the world's poorest.

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