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Last Updated: Friday, 21 November, 2003, 17:18 GMT
CAR's first president dies
The man who led the Central African Republic to independence from France has died at a hospital in Cameroon

President Dacko
Dacko was toppled twice as president
Seventy-six year old David Dacko suffered from chronic asthma and heart disease and had been taken to a Yaounde hospital last month.

He was a key figure at last month's national reconciliation talks aimed at ending the military and political crisis in the country.

His death was announced by state-run Radio Centrafrique, on Friday morning.

The country's former prime minister Jean-Paul Ngoupande hailed Dacko as "the father of democratic renewal".

"President Dacko re-established a multi-party system and organised free and transparent elections in 1981 having had the weighty responsibility of leading CAR to independence," Mr Ngoupande told AFP news agency.

Dacko began his working life as a teacher.

President Dacko re-established a multi-party system and organised free and transparent elections in 1981 having had the weighty responsibility of leading CAR to independence
Jean-Paul Ngoupande
He entered political life in 1957, when he was elected to parliament and joined the Social Evolution Movement of Black Africa (Mesan) party.

The party was founded by his cousin Barthelemy Boganda, CAR's prime minister, during the country's struggle for independence.

Dacko took over as head of government when Boganda was killed in a plane crash in 1959.

He remained in power until 31 December 1965, when he was toppled in a coup by Jean Bedel Bokassa, who went on to declare CAR an empire and himself its emperor.

In September 1979, Dacko returned to power, when he toppled Bokassa with help from French troops.

Two years later, he was toppled again in yet another bloodless putsch led by General Andre Kolingba.

In his latter years, suffering from a number of health problems, Dacko spent most of his time at home - a modest villa overlooking the Oubangui River.

At the national reconciliation talks in October, he made up with his former enemies, including the present Prime Minister Abel Goumba.


SEE ALSO:
CAR: A classic African coup
18 Mar 03  |  Africa
Country profile: Central African Republic
07 Oct 03  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Central African Republic
26 Apr 03  |  Country profiles



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