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BANGUI ,CAR — Rebels in Central African Republic have seized control of the capital, forcing President Francois Bozize to flee Bangui.
Witnesses reported heavy fighting in the city early Sunday as the rebels fought their way through the capital on their way to taking over the presidential palace.
Authorities did not say officially where President Bozize had fled. Reuters news agency quotes a presidential advisor saying anonymously that the president crossed into Democratic Republic of the Congo early Sunday.
The rebels initially pushed into Bangui Saturday, ignoring a call by Central African Republic's prime minister for talks to avoid a bloodbath.
Earlier Saturday in an interview with VOA's French to Africa service, a government spokesperson said Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye was asking members of the Seleka rebel alliance to get in touch with the national unity government to find a peaceful solution. But Seleka rebels said the only thing they wish to negotiate is President Bozize's departure.
Seleka political spokesman Eric Massi told VOA French to Africa that President Bozize must leave CAR to bring peace.
On Friday, witnesses in the capital city said the streets were empty as people rushed home or tried to flee the city as the rebels approached. Schools and banks closed early following reports of the advance.
Seleka began its offensive in December, seizing about one-third of the country. The rebels later reached a peace deal with the government in regionally-mediated talks, but have accused President Bozize of breaking the agreement.
Bozize has led CAR since taking power in a 2003 coup.
CAR has a history of coups and unrest since winning independence from France in 1960.
Source : Voa