Ex-C. African Republic leader seeks exile in Benin

VIRGILE AHISSOU and KRISTA LARSON
Associated Press
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In this photo taken Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, President of the Central African Republic Michel Djotodia sits to be photographed at a summit of the Economic Community of Central African States in N'Djamena, Chad. Michel Djotodia, the rebel leader who seized control of Central African Republic only to see the desperately poor country tumble toward anarchy and sectarian bloodshed that left more than 1,000 people dead, agreed to resign Friday, Jan. 10, 2014 along with his prime minister Nicolas Tiangaye, regional officials announced. (AP Photo)

COTONOU, Benin (AP) — Officials say the man who ruled Central African Republic as the country disintegrated into near-anarchy is now seeking exile in Benin.

Michel Djotodia, a rebel leader from the country's north, seized power of Central African Republic in March with the help of thousands of armed fighters.

On Friday, he agreed to step aside along with his prime minister following growing international pressure to resign.

Officials in Central African Republic and Benin, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to journalists, said Djotodia was to arrive in Benin later Saturday.

Djotodia's departure was initially met with celebrations although sporadic violence and looting occurred overnight in Bangui.

The political conflict has devolved into sectarian violence with the Christian majority now targeting Muslims accused of supporting Djotodia.