Split appears in C. African rebel coalition’s leadership

By Rukmini Callimachi, AP

DAKAR, Senegal — A split in the leadership of the Central African Republic rebel coalition emerged Monday, only two days after the insurgents seized the capital of this impoverished nation and chased out the president.

One of the rebel leaders, Michel Djotodia, declared himself president Monday, saying he considers himself to be the new head of state.

But another rebel leader told reporters his group does not recognize Michel Djotodia as president, and says they will challenge his attempt to install himself at the helm.

Djotodia was asked by a French radio station if they should address him as Mr. President? He answered in an interview broadcast by RFI radio on Monday: “I can consider myself to be, at this moment, the head of state.”

Asked how long he would stay in power, Djotodia suggested that he would stay as long as three years, the time remaining in the unfinished term of President Francois Bozize, who fled the capital over the weekend and whose whereabouts are now unknown.

In Paris, Nelson N’Jadder, the president of the Revolution for Democracy, one of the rebel groups belonging to the Seleka rebel coalition which invaded the capital, said that his fighters do not recognize Djotodia. He claimed the members of the rebel coalition had agreed that their aim was to push to the presidential palace and then announce an 18-month-long transition before new elections are held. There was never a consensus around appointing Djotodia as their overall leader, he said.