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François Bozizé
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Became President:March 15, 2003
Predecessor:Ange-Félix Patassé
Date of Birth:October 14, 1946
Place of Birth:Mouila, Gabon

François Bozizé Yangouvonda (born October 14, 1946) is the current President of the Central African Republic. He came to power in March 2003 after leading a rebellion against President Ange-Félix Patassé and ushered in a transitional period of government. He won the country's 2005 presidential election; he received the most votes in the first round in March 2005, but less than a majority, requiring a second round, which he won in May 2005.

Contents

Early life and Kolingba's rule

Bozizé was born in Gabon and attended a military officers' training college in the Central African province of Bouar, becoming a captain in 1975. He was appointed brigadier-general by Emperor Jean-Bédel Bokassa in 1978. After Bokassa was ousted by David Dacko in 1979, Bozizé was appointed defense minister. During the military rule of André Kolingba (1981–1993), Bozizé was appointed communications minister, but was subsequently accused of plotting a coup attempt. After being arrested in Cotonou, Benin in July 1989, Bozizé was imprisoned and tortured, but he was acquitted in late 1991.1

Kolingba held elections in 1993, and Bozizé became a candidate. He lost to Patassé, who became president.

Supporting Patassé

For many years, Bozizé was considered a supporter of Patassé and helped him suppress army mutinies in 1996 and 1997. Bozizé was then named the Armed Forces Chief of Staff.

Bozizé showed no activity against Patassé and frequently crushed revolts against the president.

Against Patassé

However, in May 2001, Bozizé's loyalty was questioned in the aftermath of another failed coup against Patassé. It was defeated with the help of Libyan troops, but Bozizé refused to answer questions regarding his involvement, and in November he fled to Chad with 300 supporters.

From Chad, Bozizé frequently made raids into the Central African Republic throughout 2002. In October, he launched an attack on the capital, Bangui. With the help of Libya and the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (a rebel group from the Democratic Republic of the Congo), Patassé was able to stop the attack.

Patassé accused President Idriss Déby of Chad of helping the rebels, a charge which Déby denied.

The Final Coup

On March 15, 2003, Bozizé finally succeeded in seizing power. Patassé was at a meeting in Niger at the time and was unable to return: Bozizé and his troops had taken control of Bangui and its airport. Patassé took refuge in Cameroon and then Togo.

Bozizé suspended the country's 1995 constitution after seizing power, and a new constitution, reportedly similar to the old one, was approved by voters in a referendum on December 5, 2004. [1] (http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=44736&SelectRegion=Great_Lakes) After seizing power, Bozizé initially said he would not run in a planned future presidential election, but after the successful constitutional referendum, he announced his intention to stand as a candidate:

After thinking thoroughly, and being deeply convinced and keeping in mind the nation's interest, I grasped the deep sense of my people's calls. As a citizen, I'll take my responsibility.
I'll contest the election to achieve the task of rebuilding the country, which is dear to me and according to your wish.1

In late December 2004, Bozizé was one of five candidates approved to run in presidential elections scheduled for early 2005. [2] (http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=44873&SelectRegion=Great_Lakes&SelectCountry=CENTRAL_AFRICAN_REPUBLIC) In early January 2005, Bozizé announced that three initially excluded candidates would also be allowed to run, although former president Patassé was not included in either group. In late January, it was announced that more candidates would be permitted to run in the election, bringing the total to 11 and leaving only Patassé barred. The elections were also delayed by one month from the previously scheduled date of February 13 to March 13 [3] (http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=45211&SelectRegion=Great_Lakes&SelectCountry=CENTRAL_AFRICAN_REPUBLIC) (see Central African Republic elections, 2005).

Bozizé came in first in the March 13 election, taking just under 43% of the vote according to official results. He faced Patassé's last prime minister, Martin Ziguélé, in a second round of voting; this was held on May 8 and according to official results announced on May 24, he won with 64.6% of the vote. He was sworn in on June 11.

In early March 2004, the Central African Republic made international headlines when Bozizé allowed the ousted Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide to stay in exile in the country, although Aristide remained there only briefly.

Reference

  1. Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), "Bozize to contest presidency as an independent candidate", (http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=44632&SelectRegion=Great_Lakes) December 13, 2004.


Preceded by:
Ange-Félix Patassé
President of Central African Republic
2003 – present
Succeeded by:
none

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