BANGUI, 20 December 2020 – The former president of the Central African Republic (CAR) Francois Bozize has denied being the brain behind what CAR authorities have called a foiled coup attempt.
“We categorically deny that Bozizé is at the origin of anything,” Christian Guenebem, a spokesperson for the former president told reporters on Sunday in the capital, Bangui.
Guenebem denied that Bozize had plotted, is plotting or has participated in any reportedly foiled coup attempt.
The denial follows accusations on Saturday by the government of incumbent president Faustin-Archange Touadera that a rebel coalition which marched on sand took over several towns was acting at the behest of Bozize.
It is not “Bozize’s fault” if, in the minds of some men in the armed groups, Bozize “represents an alternative”, spokesperson Christian Guenebem told French radio, Radio France International.
Tensions have been high in CAR since Bozize’s candidacy for the presidential election of next December 27 was rejected by the country’s Constitutional Court.
In response to the insecurity, the United Nations French-led forces in CAR said Friday that more peacekeepers had been deployed.
Opposition parties, including Bozize, have called for a postponement of the presidential ballot “until the re-establishment of peace and security”.
Incumbent Touadera has insisted that the ballot must go ahead, adding that citizens had nothing to fear with UN peacekeepers deployed.
Bozize came to power after a coup in 2003. He subsequently won two elections widely described as tainted with fraud. He was ousted in 2013 by a rebel coalition known as the Seleka, which accused him of going against the spirit of a peace agreement.
Seleka rebels have fought against the Anti-Balaka” self-defense forces since 2013.
French foces along with UN peacekeepers restored peace and elections held in 2016 were won by incumbent Touadera, who next December 27 is seeking a second term at the helm.
Bozize, 74, returned to CAR in December 2019 after six years in exile spent in Benin, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The former leader has a solid following, especially in the army and among his ethnic Gbaya group, the country’s biggest ethnic group.
He is, however, under UN sanctions for his alleged support for the Anti-Balaka groups, for crimes against humanity and incitement of genocide.
On Saturday, CAR’s three main rebel groups announced an alliance called the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) which accuses Touadera of trying to rig the upcoming presidential election.