CAR President Fires Defense Minister, Army Chief

Central African Republic President Francois Bozize has fired his son as defense minister and fired the army chief of staff, after a string of victories by rebel forces.

The firings were announced in a decree read over state radio Wednesday. The decree said Bozize is taking the defense minister’s post for himself.

The dramatic move comes as the rebels seem poised to move on the capital. A coalition of rebel groups known as Seleka captured several major towns and cities last month and is positioned less than 200 kilometers from the capital, Bangui.

Earlier Wednesday, a central African regional force created a buffer zone between the capital and the rebel stronghold of Sibut. VOA correspondent Anne Look, who is in the CAR, reports that about 500 soldiers from Chad, Gabon and the Republic of Congo assembled Wednesday in the town of Damara.

The head of the regional force, General Jean Felix Akaga, warned the rebels Wednesday that to attack Damara would be a “declaration of war” against the 10-nation Economic Community of Central African States.

He also said government troops are not to advance beyond Damara to attack the rebels.VOA

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