Coup in Central African Republic
The president of Central African Republic (CAR), Francois Bozize, fled to neighboring Cameroon on Monday, as the rebels who overthrew him began squabbling as to who would now lead the impoverished nation long wracked by rebellions.
One of the Seleka rebel leaders, Michel Djotodia, said he considers himself to be the new head of state.
But another rebel leader, Nelson N'Jaadder, from the Revolution for Democracy, a group belonging to the Seleka rebel coalition which invaded the capital, said they will challenge Djotodia's attempt to install himself at the helm.
The move raises the spectre of continuing unrest, amid reports of chaotic and violent looting in the capital, Bangui.
"Sad moment for our country"
South Africa said 13 of its soldiers were killed in a fight against the Seleka rebels over the weekend as up to 3,000 fighters attacked its troops while advancing through Bangui.
It was one of South Africa's heaviest losses in combat in nearly two decades. "It is a sad moment for our country," President Jacob Zuma said.
South Africa has no immediate plans to withdraw its troops, "but once the dust has settled we will assess whether our presence there is still needed," Zuma added.
The Seleka rebel coalition is made up of several rebel groups, which began their rapid sweep into the CAR last December. They pushed all the way to a town just outside Damara, 75 kilometers (47 miles) from the capital, before entering into talks with the government.
Deal declared null and void
In January, they signed a peace deal in Libreville, the capital of the neighboring nation of Gabon, agreeing to allow Bozize to see out the last three years of his term, in return for a number of concessions.
Last week, they declared the peace deal void, saying Bozize had failed to free their prisoners and had refused to send back the South African troops that were guarding him, two points of the accord.
Paul Melly, Associate Fellow with the Africa Program at Chatham House in the UK, told DW that the international community had lost faith in Bozize because of his government's poor human rights record and its failure to live up to commitments in the peace deal.
Melly also said the international forces that were present in the CAR - the French, the South Africans and the MICOPAX force of central African countries - "didn't want to become involved in what they see as essentially an internal Central African conflict."
The government of Cameroon confirmed on Monday that Bozize was seeking "temporary" refuge there before leaving for another unspecified country.
The ousted president managed to get out of Central African Republic amid the fierce fighting over the weekend.
Isolate rebel government
The African Union suspended the Central African Republic from the bloc's activities on Monday and imposed sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, on seven top officials from the Seleka rebel group.
The AU called on its members to "completely isolate" the new rebel government and urged the UN and EU to reject the "unconstitutional change."
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the seizure of power by Seleka and called for "the swift restoration of constitutional order."
The UN Security Council was scheduled to hold emergency consultations on the crisis on Monday.
The removal of Bozize, who himself seized power in a 2003 coup backed by Chad, was just the latest in a series of rebellions since the poor, landlocked country won independence from France in 1960.