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Sunday, 4 November, 2001, 19:57 GMT
CAR fighting erupts over sacked general
People in Bangui - 26/5/1996
Bangui has been unstable for many years
Mark Doyle

Bursts of gunfire broke out in the capital of the Central African Republic on Saturday morning as forces loyal to the Libyan-backed president Ange-Felix Patasse apparently tried to arrest the sacked army Chief of Staff General Francois Bozize.

CAR timeline
May 2001: Attempted coup
1993: Incumbent President Ange-Felix Patasse elected
1960: CAR gains independence from France
Latest reports from residents of Bangui say the shooting appears to have stopped, but soldiers backing the two men have set up road blocks near their respective residences.

Residents said the gunfire started shortly after dawn, when presidential guards loyal to President Patasse moved towards the house of the former army chief of staff in the north of the riverside capital.

A warrant for the arrest of General Bozize was issued several days ago, but efforts by paramilitary police to pick him up failed, and the presidential guard appears to be having problems as well.

The president's staff said General Bozize was resisting arrest, and this would appear to account for the shooting.

It is not clear why President Patasse wants to arrest his former army chief.


In May of this year, General Bozize played a key role in defending Mr Patasse's civilian rule when a coup attempt was launched by a former military ruler.

Libyan troops then moved in to stabilise the regime of Mr Patasse, whose election in 1993 ended a long period of military rule.

The Central African Republic has seen numerous coups and military revolts since independence from France in 1960.

For many years, a contingent of French soldiers based in Bangui mainly to protect French interests were involved in local military intrigues.

When this kind of neo-colonialism became unfashionable, the French left, and the United Nations peacekeeping force briefly tried to fill the power vacuum.

Now Libyan troops are engaged. But none of these foreign forces has brought stability to the Central African Republic, which, despite mineral and timber wealth, remains an underdeveloped and impoverished country.

See also:

04 Sep 01 | Africa
CAR mobile phone exiles
12 Jun 01 | Africa
UN steps into CAR ethnic tension
03 Jun 01 | Africa
Army occupy CAR general's house
28 May 01 | Africa
CAR 'coup attempt' fails
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