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Africa

Zuma reneged on promise to help, says Bozizé

© AFP

Text by Thomas HUBERT

Latest update : 2013-08-25

The deposed Central African president, François Bozizé, told a South African Sunday paper that President Jacob Zuma reneged on a secret agreement to send reinforcements to Bangui, enabling Séléka rebels to topple him last March.

François Bozizé, the former president of the Central African Republic, told a South African Sunday paper that South Africa’s failure to send reinforcements to Bangui enabled Séléka rebels to topple him last March.

Bozizé, who flew to Pretoria days before the rebels entered the Central African Bangui, told the Sunday Times: "I met President Zuma. We held two or three hours of talks. (…) It was accepted that reinforcements would be sent."

Although 200 South African troops had arrived in early January, 15 of whom died in the fall of Bangui, the reinforcements expected to stop the Séléka rebels never arrived.

He returned empty-handed on March 23 to find Bangui in flames and his South African protectors fighting for their lives. The next morning he fled to neighbouring Cameroon.

Bozizé blamed it on his enemies’ “manipulation” of public opinion against South Africa’s military intervention.

But during the interview in Paris, where he now lives, Bozizé claims he doesn't hold a grudge against Jacob Zuma. 

"I would not say that I was betrayed. Zuma and I, we discussed the situation. I do not condemn Zuma. It was a time of great confusion". 

Instead, he lashed out at Chadian president Idriss Déby, who he said ordered his troops to let Séléka columns advance on Bangui.

“I hold him responsible. The South African soldiers who died - their blood is on his hands, not the Séléka rebels’,” Bozizé said.

On August 10, Bozizé told Radio France Internationale that he would “return to power” in the Central African Republic “if an opportunity presented itself”.

Date created : 2013-08-25

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