(BANGUI, Central African Republic) — Rebels claim that they are in control of Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, after President Francois Bozize fled the capital, according to reports from BBC News.
The rebel coalition known as Seleka has been in some form of rebellion since December. They are motivated by claims that Bozize failed to honor a peace deal granting leniency to insurgents who had laid down their arms.
“Central African Republic has just opened a new page in its history,” Justin Kombo Moustapha, secretary-general of Seleka said in a statement.
According to Seleka officials, they are now going to attempt to move the country towards democratic elections.
“With the taking of Bangui and the departure of Bozize, the main objective of our struggle has been realized,” said Nelson Ndjadder a member of CPSK, one of the factions that make up Seleka.
“Central Africans must meet around a table to decide the path for their common future,” Ndjadder continued.
The situation on the ground in Bangui is not great, according to UN Humanitarian officials, who report of significant looting, lack of utilities and general chaos.
“Our main concern right now is at the community level, with the looting and the possible tensions between various ethnic groups,” Amy Martin of the UN’s humanitarian agency, OCHA, told BBC News.
The Central African Republic has been plagued by revolt and rebellion since it gained independence from France in 1960. It is one of the poorest countries in Africa.
President Bozize has sought refuge in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Evan McKirdy, Tim Hume and James Masters, CNN
Schams Elwazer, Mohammed Tawfeeq and Tim Hume, CNN
Dave Gilbert, CNN
Billy Hallowell, Deseret News