President of Central African Republic takes military into his own hands
The Central African Republic President François Bozizé has removed the country's defense minister, his son Jean-Francis Bozizé, and the Chief of Staff, General Guillaume Lapo. President Bozize, who assumed the role of Defense Minister ad interim, had recently criticized the lack of discipline and the accumulated losses of the armed forces in the face of the advancing coalition of the Seleka rebels, some 160 km from Bangui.
Bozizé's decision to resume the leadership of the military is interpreted by opposition press as a sign that he intends to pursue the military option to retake the rebel-held territory, despite negotiations that should start in Gabon on January 8 between the government and representatives of Seleka. According to the rebels, the local armed forces have recently received large quantities of weapons from South Africa, along with reinforcements of South African mercenaries.
On the ground the situation has reached a deadlock. The rebels stopped their offensive in the direction of Bangui, while the soldiers of the Multinational Force of Central Africa (FOMAC) are emplaced in Damara, 75 km from the capital.
"Damara is an impassable red line on both sides," warned President Idriss Deby of Chad, whose soldiers are an important component of FOMAC, consisting of about 400 soldiers from Chad, to which are added 360 soldiers from Gabon, Cameroon and Congo . The FOMAC officially has the task of standing between the two contenders, while the 600 French troops seek to protect French citizens in the Central African Republic, without interfering in the internal affairs of the country, as in the past.
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