Former CAR president Patasse dies in Cameroon


Former Central African Republic (CAR) president and runner-up in a January presidential poll Ange Felix Patasse has died in a hospital in Douala, Cameroon at the age of 74, said Cameroon state radio.

The radio said Patasse, who arrived in the neighbouring country for a health check-up on Saturday, died of a diabetes-related illness.

Cameroonian and CAR authorities could not be reached for comments, reuters reports.

Patasse said last week that he was barred twice by the government of president Francois Bozize at the Bangui airport when he tried to leave the country for medical reasons.

The CAR government denied the accusations. Patasse was deposed in a 2003 coup by former army chief Bozize, whom he had sacked in 2001.

Patasse, was the leading opposition candidate in the January presidential election and came second behind Bozize who was declared winner with 66 percent of the vote.

The former president and other opposition parties however said the vote was rigged. Patasse came to power after defeating former military leaders Andre Kolingba and David Dacko in an election in 1993 and was re-elected in 1999.

But his successive governments were plagued by military mutinies and he escaped an attack by renegade soldiers in 2001.

The Central Africa Republic is rich in diamonds, uranium and gold, but instability and poor infrastructure have discouraged investment.

Aside from home-grown insurgents, Lord’s Resistance Army rebels who left Uganda years ago to roam across central Africa have moved into CAR’s east, terrorising civilians.