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CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Natural Resources Shape New Govt after Rebel Seizure

Bottom Line: A new leadership is emerging for this resource-rich country after Seleka rebels seized the presidential palace in Bangui and forced CAR President Francois Bozize to flee, while French soldiers secured the airport and South African troops denounced the rebels. At stake are French uranium interests and South African oil interests—and this will shape support for a new leadership.

Analysis: Bozize himself had risen to power 10 years ago during a military coup that overthrew Ange-Felix Patasse, who had likewise been through a number of coup attempts over a decade in power. The country is often referred to as a phantom state due to the continuing mismanagement of its wealth—which includes vast deposits of gold, diamonds, and uranium, plentiful timber and oil resources—while it’s 4.5 million people live in poverty.

African Union forces, led by South African peacekeepers attempted to prevent the government overthrow, and at least nine South African troops were killed as they advanced to the capital. Bozize is believed to have fled to Cameroon, while Seleka leader Michel Djotodia is already declaring himself president. Djotodia has vowed to support the incumbent prime minister Nicolas Tianhaye, but Djotodia’s nature is more along the lines of a dictator. Djotodia has also vowed to stick to the terms of a peace deal for the national unity government headed by Tianhaye to hold elections within 3 years. It was in January that Djotodia…

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