Bangui - The leader of rebels in Central African Republic
pledged to name a power-sharing government in a bid to defuse international
criticism of Sunday's coup that killed 13 South African soldiers and plunged
the mineral-rich nation into chaos.
Regional peacekeepers said that the leader of the Seleka
rebel coalition, self-proclaimed President Michel Djotodia, appealed for help
in restoring order after his own men joined in a second day of looting in the
riverside capital Bangui.
The rebels' ouster of President Francois Bozize was swiftly
condemned by the United Nations and the African Union. But in a sign of
pragmatism, the United States, France and regional power broker Chad called on
the insurgents to respect a January peace deal creating a unity government.
At least 5 000 Seleka fighters swept into the capital on
Sunday after a lightning offensive in which they fought their way from the far
north to the presidential palace in four days after a the collapse of the
power-sharing agreement signed in the Gabonese capital Libreville.
Neighbouring Cameroon confirmed on Monday that Bozize had
arrived there but said it was not giving him permanent refugee.
The removal of Bozize, who himself seized power in a 2003
coup backed by Chad, was just the latest in a series of rebellions since the
poor, landlocked country won independence from France in 1960.
"We will respect the Libreville accord, which means a
political transition of 2 to 3 years before elections," Seleka spokesperson
Eric Massi said by telephone.
The Libreville deal - drafted by regional mediators after
the rebels besieged Bangui in December - had created a government drawn from
Bozize loyalists, rebel leaders and the civilian opposition.
Massi said that civilian opposition member Nicolas Tiangaye
would remain as prime minister with a slightly rejigged cabinet.
In the sprawling capital, 600 000 residents remained without
power and running water for a third day, preventing Djotodia from making a
planned national address from the presidential palace.
Despite a curfew, there was widespread pillaging of offices,
public buildings and businesses by rebels and civilians.
"Public order is the biggest problem right now,"
said General Jean Felix Akanga, commander of the regional African peacekeeping
force. "Seleka's leaders are struggling to control their men. The
president has asked us to help restore calm."
He said the rebels would start to confine their forces to
barracks from Monday.