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Central Africa's new strongman says will rule by decree

Bangui (Central African Republic), Mar 25, 2013 (AFP):

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 yesterday he would rule by decree until elections are organised in three years.

Earlier yesterday, 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, 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 yesterday 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 yesterday, 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 yesterday he was in Cameroon. But the authorities there said he would moving on "to another host country".

Djotodia, who is about 60, is a former civil servant and diplomat. Since 2005 he has been one of the leading figures among the rebels.

In his address yesterday night, he promised to restore order, announcing a night-time curfew effective between 7:00 pm and 6:00 am.

The Seleka rebels were initially welcomed by residents waving palm leaves in celebration, but the mood quickly darkened as looters took to the streets. 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.

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