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CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Bozize to step down after transitional period

Bangui, 28 April 2003 (IRIN) - Central African Republic (CAR) leader Francois Bozize announced on Friday that he would step down as president after a transition period of between 18 and 30 months.

"I gave myself the mission of saving the CAR people and presiding over the transition and then I will step down," he said at a news conference in Libreville, the Gabonese capital.

He was on an official visit to Gabon for talks with President Omar Bongo. This was Bozize's first visit outside the CAR since he seized power on 15 March.

During the news conference, which the official Radio Centrafrique broadcast on Saturday in its entirety, Bozize said he would tour all the subregional capitals before visiting other countries.

He said that the support given his administration by the Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States (CEMAC)was the first step in his bid for full recognition by the international community.

CEMAC has sent troops to Bangui, the CAR capital, to maintain peace. The force, which was initially to have been made up of 350 troops from Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, the Republic of Congo, and Mali – a non-CEMAC member - is to be joined by a Chadian contingent, whose size is yet to be fixed.

Before the coup that ousted Ange-Felix Patasse, the CEMAC force was initially mandated to protect him, secure the CAR-Chad border and restructure the CAR army. After the coup, regional leaders redefined the mission. Bozize said that with the new mandate, the CEMAC force would operate nationwide.

Theme (s): Governance,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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