Michel Djotodia, leader of rebel forces behind a coup in the Central African Republic (CAR), declared in a radio address March 25 that the country’s constitution is dissolved and he is now the nation’s leader. Djotodia, a leader of the Seleka rebel alliance that seized the country’s capital over the weekend and caused President Francois Bozize to flee the country, also declared the dissolution of the CAR parliament and government. The Seleka rebels’ actions in taking control of the country ran afoul of a peace deal brokered in January between Bozize and the group. Seleka claims, however, that its actions are justified because the Bozize government first failed to uphold elements of the agreement, including a promise to remove South African troops from Bangui. Djotodia intends to serve out the rest of Bozize’s term, which is set to end in 2016.
Earlier this week UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the coup by the Seleka rebels and advocated for the “swift restoration of constitutional order.” The African Union also condemned the coup and suspended the CAR from the Union and imposed sanctions against the country. The CAR has also recently been criticized for its controversial use of child soldiers. In January UNICEF said that it had received “credible reports” of both pro-government and rebel armed groups in the country recruiting and including children in its conflict. In June the CAR was included in a report issued by Ban detailing the violations committed against children in conflict zones. The UN Security Council’s Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict in 2011 also expressed concern about children’s rights violations, including rape and other sexual violence as well as recruitment in armed conflict, in the country.
From Jurist, March 26. Used with permission.