Former Central African Republic (CAR) President François Bozizé, who was overthrown on 24 March 2013 in a bloody coup d’état that cost the lives of 13 South African troops, has accused his former friend and ally, Chad President Idriss Deby, of helping the Seleka rebels to oust him.
“It was the Chadian Special Forces that conducted the operation on Sunday morning, and attacked the base of South African troops who were heading to the capital Bangui,” Bozizé told the BBC in Cameroon, where he has been living since the fall of his regime.
He has officially requested political asylum in Benin, and he is still waiting for a decision, Benin minister of foreign affairs Arifari Bako said.
“We had strong brotherly relations with Chad, but we were surprised by their behaviour. Only Chadian authorities can give us an explanation,” the former military dictator said.
Le Journal de Brazza reported this week that the arms that were used by the Seleka rebels during the final assault on the presidential palace were purchased in Eritrea, and transited by Chad with the permission of Deby.
Eritrea, a rogue state badly hit by EU and US sanctions, has a history of arming African rebel groups, including Somalia’s Al-Shabab.
Bozizé came to power in 2003, after overthrowing President Ange Felix Patassé in a coup d’état with the help of Chad.
When a northern rebellion threatened his government in 2010, Chad also sent troops to annihilate that threat.
Chad soldiers are thought to be among the well-trained and well-equipped army in Africa.
This direct and open accusation shows how badly their relationship had deteriorated in the past three years after Bozizé failed to honour his promise of let Chad take hold of CAR mineral resources, including newly-discovered oil, uranium and diamonds.
Deby also wanted to have a final say in the CAR’s day-to-day affairs, including who Bozizé could appoint in government.
Deby warned Bozizé not to amend the constitution to seek a third mandate.
Bozizé, who was abandoned by both Paris and Washington, felt isolated and turned to South Africa for help.
It is believed that two other rebel groups, CPJP Fondamentale and CPSK, are currently roaming the jungle of CAR, and it remains unclear whether they will also seek the help of Chad to overthrow CAR self-proclaimed President Michel Djotodia.
Djotodia, who is now the puppet of Deby and being remote-controlled by Chad, has suspended the constitution, and said he will rule by decree for the next three years.
Photo by AP. Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy flanked by African dictators (from left) Congo’s Sassou Nguessou, Cameroon’s Paul Biya, Chad’s Idriss Deby and ex-CAR leader Francois Bozizé.