March 17, 2003
General Bozize reassured the Central African Republic that the latest coup was only a temporary break with democracy, then promptly dissolved the parliament. The African Union strongly condemned the coup in the Central African Republic, with the organization's conflict prevention and resolution body planning to meet "very shortly to consider the situation and the measures to be taken".
Eighty people (including 60 French nationals) were evacuated aboard a French army plane on the afternoon of the 16th, from Bangui to the Gabonese capital Libreville. In a conciliatory gesture, Bozize then ordered all defense and security forces to return to barracks (in order to allow life in Bangui to return to normal) and announced a dusk-to-dawn curfew that night, to stop the frenzy of looting in the capital Bangui.
The Catholic News agency MISNA reported that 2,000 Chadian soldiers were running amok, taking everything not nailed down and targeting white-owned businesses in particular. The agency also complimented the French embassy for running a refugee camp in a nearby warehouse, although there were only 100 locals in it.
At least eight people were killed and dozens wounded in the brief coup, although about 10 civilians were shot dead during the subsequent looting. Three civilians were killed close to the airport in a shootout before the Congolese rebel group MLC (Liberation Movement of Congo) announced their withdrawal. Local and military officials said two rebels and three Congo Republic soldiers (in Bangui as part of a regional peacekeeping force) were killed in the fighting. - Adam Geibel