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Central African Republic rebels dissolve constitution

Michel Djotodia, leader of rebel forces behind a coup in the Central African Republic (CAR) [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive], declared in a radio address Monday that the country's constitution is dissolved and he is now the nation's leader. Djotodia, a leader of the Seleka [WorldWideConflicts profile] rebel alliance that seized the country's capital over the weekend and caused President Francois Bozize [World Biography profile] to flee the country, also declared [AP report] the dissolution of the CAR parliament and government. The Seleka rebels' actions in taking control of the country ran afoul of a peace deal [LOC report] brokered in January between Bozize and the group. Seleka claims, however, that its actions are justified because the Bozize government first failed to uphold elements of the agreement, including a promise to remove South African troops from Bangui. Djotodia intends to serve out the rest of Bozize's term, which is set to end in 2016.

Earlier this week UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] condemned [JURIST report] the coup by the Seleka rebels and advocated for the "swift restoration of constitutional order." The African Union [official website] also condemned the coup and suspended [Reuters report] the CAR from the Union and imposed sanctions against the country. The CAR has also recently been criticized for its controversial use of child soldiers. In January UNICEF [official website] said that it had received "credible reports" of both pro-government and rebel armed groups in the country recruiting and including children [JURIST report] in its conflict. In June the CAR was included in a report issued by Ban detailing the violations committed against children [JURIST report] in conflict zones. The UN Security Council's Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict [official website] in 2011 also expressed concern [JURIST report] about children's rights violations, including rape and other sexual violence as well as recruitment in armed conflict, in the country.

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