CAR ex-rebel leader arrested

2012-01-07 12:16
Bangui - Central African Republic police arrested ex-rebel chief Jean-Jacques Demafouth Friday for an alleged bid to destabilise the country, a court official and Demafouth said.

"Mr Demafouth and several other persons are involved in destabilising the country through a rebel coalition," said an official close to the prosecutor's office.

"The investigation that has been opened on this matter will determine those responsible."

Contacted by phone by AFP, Demafouth, chief of the former APRD rebel group, confirmed he had been arrested and detained but denied the allegations.

"The arrested me at about 11:00 this morning," he said.

"I am currently at the gendarmerie. They are accusing me of having taken the leadership of an alliance of three other rebel groups ... but I have nothing to do with that," he added.

"I don't know anything about it: it's completely false," Demafouth insisted.

The 54-year-old lawyer in 2008 agreed to lead the Popular Army for the Restoration of the Republic (APRD) in talks with the authorities that led to most rebel groups signing a peace deal with the government that same year.

He is also vice president of a committee overseeing the disarming of former rebels and leads the New Alliance for Progress party (NAP).

Demafouth ran in the 2011 presidential election, coming fifth with 2.79% of the vote. He was also a candidate in 2005.

Both those elections were won by Francois Bozize, who initially came to power in a 2003 military coup.

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