afrol News, 3 June - Central African Republic former president and dissident leader General Andre Kolingba is pursued for the coup attempt almost one week ago. After admitting his responsibility, Kolingba's residence today was occupied by government troops, but the general had already fled.
The former military ruler on Thursday had made a statement telling mutinous soldiers to lay down their arms after Libya and Congolese troops came to the aid of President Ange-Felix Patassé. "I have agreed to stop the hostilities from this evening," Kolingba told Radio France Internationale. "I ask the mutinous soldiers to return to their respective residences."
Kolingba thus admitted to the earlier allegations that he had been behind the coup attempt against Patassé that took place on Monday, 28 May. Rebel soldiers had attacked Patassé's residence, but the President escaped unhurt. At least 20 people were confirmed to have died in the coup attempt and subsequent skirmishes in southern areas of the capital Bangui.
Having confirmed his leadership to the attempted coup, government forces reacted by pursuing the general. The Central African government today confirmed its troops, supported by Libyan and Congolese soldiers, had occupied Kolingba's home. The President's spokesperson Prosper Ndouba however later confirmed that the general already had fled as the troops arrived his residence.
Thousands more civilians are reported to be fleeing Bangui as government and foreign troops used mortar shells and machine-gun fire in an apparent effort to force the ethnic Yakoma community to hand over the General Kolingba. The Yakoma are believed to support fellow southerner Kolingba against northerner Patassé in the country's turbulent political landscape, where ethnic divisions between north and south are playing a key role.
General Kolingba, who ruled the Central African Republic from 1981 to 1993 before Ange-Felix Patassé defeated him in the country's first multi-party election, is himself a Yakoma. Patassé, re-elected democratically in 1999, is the country's first president form the north.
The pursue of rebel soldiers has lasted for almost one week and has mostly been located to Bangui's southern residential areas. Thousands of civilians have fled in the hard-handed strikes. Even President Patassé has been forced to condemn action by his armed forces against civilians. "There were some inappropriate actions and mistakes during the operations in certain parts of Bangui. We condemn in the firmest manner what went on," spokesperson Ndouba said.
The situation in Bangui now mostly is under control, although the pursue of Kolingba and some few mutineers still creates instability and fear among civilians.
Kolingba himself has denied his men's action was a coup attempt. He told the press that this was not an effort at a coup d'état, but rather a "healthy intervention" over which the mutineers had asked him to preside. Kolingba has now been charged with insurrection and murder. Kolingba, when caught, will have to answer to Central African justice as well as to an international tribunal for mutiny, President Patassé has stated.
According to reports, Kolingba had also enlisted two Rwandan generals commanding some 300 Rwandan and Angolan mercenaries. The rebels were said to be well organised, carrying modern weapons and wearing uniforms. On Thursday, Libya's Colonel Mu'ammar Qadhafi sent in an additional two military helicopters to support Patassé. Rebel soldiers of Jean-Pierre Bemba's Congolese Front pour la Liberation du Congo (FLC) are also helping Patassé.
Sources: Based on CAR govt, UN, media reports and afrol archives