About 5,000 Seleka fighters descended on Bangui, the capital city of Central African Republic (CAR), and took control of the national government. The rebel leader, Michel Djotodia, recorded a statement and released it to reporters.
“I consider it necessary to suspend the November 27, 2004 constitution, to dissolve parliament as well as the government. During this transition period which will lead us to free, credible and transparent elections, I will legislate by decree…We will lead the people of Central African Republic during a three-year transition period, in accordance with the Libreville Accord.”
The African Union suspended CAR on Monday and warned the rebel leaders that they may face trial. South African President Jacob Zuma called the rebels “bandits.” In an effort to help defend the CAR government from overthrow, South African soldiers engaged in a nine-hour long battle in the CAR capital. Thirteen of those South African soldiers were killed and 27 were wounded.
“It is a sad moment for our country,” Zuma said, “Our soldiers paid the ultimate price in the service of their country. Just over 200 of our soldiers fought bandits who wanted to cause harm, but the actions of these bandits would not deter us from our mission of peace and security.”
According the UN tens of thousands of people have fled CAR into neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon. Ousted President François Bozizé of the Central African Republic has fled to Cameroon. A senior Cameroon official read a statement on the national radio saying that Bozizé will remain there until he finds a more permanent refuge.