You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

Drive behind leader’s rise to top in Central African Republic

Seleka rebels left the presidential palace of the ousted leader in Bangui, Central African Republic on Thursday.

SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images

Seleka rebels left the presidential palace of the ousted leader in Bangui, Central African Republic on Thursday.

DAKAR, Senegal — Michel Djotodia showed up for peace talks a few months ago in camouflage and a turban as the face of Central African Republic’s rebel movement. Now he has traded the fatigues for a suit as the nation’s new self-declared leader after ousting the president of a decade.

Djotodia, whose diverse resume includes studying in the former Soviet Union and work as a consul in Sudan’s region of Darfur, initially signed on in January to serve as the defense minister in a unity government with his longtime foe, then-President Francois Bozize.

Continue reading below

But that power-sharing deal fell apart. Only two months later, Djotodia’s forces invaded the capital, and he declared himself president of the impoverished but mineral-rich country for at least the next three years.

Although Djotodia emerged as the dominant leader of the alliance of rag-tag fighters known as Seleka, which means alliance in the local Sango language, some of his colleagues are already saying they never intended for him to single-handedly lead the country after Bozize’s ouster.

‘‘We didn’t battle to get rid of one dictator only to have another,’’ says Nelson N’Djadder, a rebel leader now threatening to fight Djotodia for leadership of a nation plagued by coups and rebellions.

Djotodia, a 60-something longtime rebel, was once a civil servant under Bozize’s predecessor and worked at the Central African Republic’s consulate in Nyala, in Sudan’s South Darfur state. Recent developments come as little surprise to some observers.

‘‘He has single-mindedly always wanted to be president of Central African Republic. He has been a tremendously ambitious man,’’ said Alex Vines, of Chatham House, a London-based institute on world affairs.

‘In the end he had one vision, which was to take power .’

Alex Vines, Analyst with London-based institute, Chatham House 
Quote Icon

‘‘In the end he had one vision, which was to take power and he has done that unconstitutionally now,’’ Vines added.

Among potential rebel leaders, he managed to position himself front and center, said Louisa Lombard, of the University of California Berkeley, who has been traveling to Central African Republic for the past 10 years for research.

‘‘I think he’s mostly been successful through his diplomacy and negotiating alliances with different people and getting them on his side,’’ she said.

Lombard predicts: ‘‘I think it’s likely that we’ll see some struggles for control and power in the weeks to come.’’

Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.