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Central African Republic president fled to Cameroon

By CNN Staff
updated 2:20 PM EDT, Mon March 25, 2013
Seleka rebel coalition members in a village north of the Central African Republic capital on January 10, 2013.
Seleka rebel coalition members in a village north of the Central African Republic capital on January 10, 2013.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Bozize is hoping to jump to another country from Cameroon
  • The African Union has suspended the Central African Republic
  • Britain, France and the European Union express concern

(CNN) -- The rebel seizure of the capital of the volatile Central African Republic has sent the president packing and prompted the nation's suspension from the continent's top political entity.

President Francois Bozize fled and ended up in Cameroon after rebels took Bangui on Sunday, Cameroon state TV said Monday, reporting a government communique.

The ousted president sought refuge in Cameroon, where he is hoping to move to another country, the report says.

The African Union -- which represents nations across the continent -- took the action against the Central African Republic after the insurgents captured Bangui.

In a communique published on the AU's website, the union said the rebels violated a January cease-fire agreement and peace deal that had called for rebels to form a unity government under the nation's president.

Seleka rebels call Bozize the former president

A written statement from an official with the Seleka rebels referred to Bozize as the country's former president and urged residents of the landlocked country to remain calm and prepare themselves to welcome rebel forces.

A wave of unrest started in December, when the Seleka rebel coalition launched its offensive. The rebels accused Bozize of reneging on a peace deal and demanded that he step down.

The rebel group, based in the country's north, managed to take control of several towns and move toward Bangui in the following weeks.

The Seleka and the government brokered a new peace deal in January, agreeing to form a unity government led by Bozize. But that peace deal also fell apart.

Swift world condemnation

France condemns rebels' "use of force" to capture Bangui and said any political transition in the former French colony should be governed by the January peace deal, according to Philippe Lalliot, spokesman for France's Foreign Ministry.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague, speaking in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, expressed concern over reports of casualties and looting. He called for restraint and a "swift return to democratic rule."

Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief, urged "all parties to cease hostilities immediately" and called on "armed groups to respect and protect the civilian population." She urged rival parties to engage in negotiations.

"Violent or unconstitutional changes of government remain unacceptable," she said.

CNN's Nana Karikari-apau contributed to this report

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