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Wednesday, 23 October, 2002, 16:24 GMT 17:24 UK
France gives asylum to CAR 'rebel'
Former chief of staff Francois Bozize
Bozize denies he tried to overthrow President Patasse
France has given permanent sanctuary to a former Central African Republic (CAR) army chief accused of plotting a coup last year.

General Francois Bozize left for France a few weeks ago from Chad, where he had been living since his dismissal in October last year, the Chadian Government has said.

Earlier this month, Central African leaders meeting in Gabon agreed that General Bozize would be expelled from Chad and granted asylum in France, the government said.

General Bozize had been accused, together with 600 others, of plotting a coup attempt in May last year.

Since 1996, President Patasse has faced several mutinies launched by disgruntled soldiers complaining of low pay.

Exchange

The six heads of state who met in Libreville on 2 October decided that General Bozize should leave for the sake of the region's stability.

General Bozize's flight to Chad had prompted the CAR to close its border and to seek Libya's military help.

CAR's President Ange Felix Patasse
General Bozize had defended Patasse against coups in the past

Mr Bozize was effectively pardoned by President Patasse over the summer.

In exchange for his expulsion from Chad, the CAR agreed to expel a former Chadian rebel, Abdoulaye Miskine.

Earlier this month, the CAR authorities announced that Miskine would be resettled in Togo "within a month".

According to the Libreville accord, Libyan troops are to be replaced by a regional force which will patrol the border and protect Mr Patasse, but no details have been given about its deployment.

Death sentence

Earlier this month, the criminal court of Bangui acquitted the former Defence Minister, Jean-Jacques Demafouth, and about 50 other defendants accused of endangering state security.

General Andre Kolingba
Kolingba: Current whereabouts unknown
But the former head of state, Andre Kolingba, was sentenced to death in his absence over the summer in connection with the failed coup.

He fled the country after last May's fighting and his current whereabouts are not known.

Twenty senior army officers also received death sentences. One report said three of those sentenced were Mr Kolingba's sons.

More than 300 soldiers who joined the coup attempt were given 10 years, with most of those convicted belonging to Mr Kolingba's Yakoma ethnic group.

Central African Republic

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26 Aug 02 | Africa
04 Feb 02 | Africa
05 Nov 01 | Africa
05 Jul 02 | Country profiles
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