Rebels who invaded the capital two months after signing a peace agreement overthrew Central African Republic's president of a decade today, as fighters seized the presidential palace and declared him the country's former leader, according to witnesses and an adviser to longtime President Francois Bozize. Former colonial power France confirmed the developments, issuing a statement that said French President Francois Hollande "has taken note of the departure of President Francois Bozize."
"Central African Republic has just opened a new page in its history," said a communique signed by Justin Kombo Moustapha, secretary-general of the alliance of rebel groups known as Seleka. "The political committee of the Seleka coalition calls on the population to remain calm and to prepare to welcome the revolutionary forces of Seleka." Heavy gunfire echoed through the city today as fighters made their way to the presidential palace, which the country's leader of a decade had fled. "Bozize left the city this morning," said a member of Bozize's presidential majority, who declined to say where the president had gone. A crisis management firm with contacts on the ground said it believed Bozize was headed toward neighboring Congo. (Read more Central African Republic stories.)