Libreville: The Central African Republic's government has said it had foiled a plan to launch a coup d'état next week, with intelligence implicating former president Ange Felix Patasse who strongly denied any involvement.
National Security Minister Jules Bernard Ouande said in a recorded radio statement said that the government obtained detailed information on Friday about a plan by unnamed soldiers and politicians to overthrow President Francois Bozize.
"It was marked 'Plan of Attack'," Ouande said, reading the document over Radio Centrafrica.
"I can tell you that when it obtained this information, the Central African government took all necessary action," Ouande said in the statement.
The coup was to have been launched on Monday with meetings of those involved, including "commandos, mercenaries, kamikazes and militiamen”.
The next stages, including "distribution of weapons, munitions, uniforms”, naming of heads of operations, handing out of money, reconnaissance and cutting of all telephone lines were to have taken place from March 16 to 19.
These actions were to have culminated in a spokesman for the movement making a statement on March 20, hours before "the opening of the borders and a statement by the head of state whose name I don't wish to divulge," Ouande said.
While stating several times that he did not want to give the name, the minister mentioned a passage in the document that spoke of "reinforcements in the home of AFP”, the initials of Patasse who was president from 1993 to 2003.
Patasse, reached on the phone from Libreville, denied any involvement in an attempted coup saying he had always "fought for the vote."
Patasse, widely known in the Central African Republic as AFP, said he suspected the authorities were trying to eliminate him as a threat in Presidential Elections due April 25 along with general elections.
The former president, who was overthrown in March 2003 by Bozize, declared: "I have been elected twice, this time I'll go (to the polls) and I'll win!"
Under a presidential decree the electoral campaign will run April 12-23. The landlocked country located squarely in the centre of the African continent has been trying to complete a peace process after years of rebellions, coup d'état and various kinds of violence by rebels, soldiers and brigands setting up roadblocks.
First Published: Sunday, March 14, 2010, 09:16