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CAR rebel govt illegitimate, says US

27 March 2013, 08:30

Washington - The United States on Tuesday "strongly" condemned the rebel takeover of the government of the Central African Republic as "illegitimate" and said it was reviewing current foreign assistance.

"We strongly condemn the illegitimate seizure of power by the Seleka rebel alliance, the ouster of president [Francois] Bozize, Michel Djotodia's self-appointment as president and the announcement of the suspension of the CAR constitution and parliament," said Patrick Ventrell, a spokesman at the US State Department.

He said the Seleka leadership must be held accountable for the "trail of destruction" it left behind during months of fighting and extensive looting.

State Department lawyers were determining whether the extrajudicial seizure of power by Seleka met the definition of a coup, which would help decide the future of US foreign aid, Ventrell said.

"We want these rebels to step aside and let Prime Minister [Nicolas] Tiangaye and his government lead the country," Ventrell said.

The US has a "small number of forces" operating in the south-eastern part of the Central African Republic, Ventrell confirmed. They were serving as advisers in regional efforts to combat the militant group, the Lord's Resistance Army.

The Seleka rebels at the weekend took over Bangui and the presidential palace as well as television and radio stations as Bozize fled to neighbouring Cameroon.

Late on Monday, rebel leader Djotodia, who had declared himself the new president and said he would hold democratic elections within three years, suspended the country's constitution, dissolved parliament and announced he would rule by decree, according to France24 television.

The UN Security Council on Monday "strongly" condemned the military-led coup, and criticised the ensuing violence and looting. The African Union suspended the country's membership and imposed sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, against the rebels.



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