The Republic of Congo's president, in hiding after opposition forces captured the capital and the country's second-largest city, insists that he is still in charge.
"I cannot but consider myself president since I do not yet have before me a successor democratically elected as I was," Pascal Lissouba said in a telephone interview with French radio. Lissouba's whereabouts were unknown.The Cobra militia of Gen. Denis Sassou-Nguesso, the country's military ruler for 12 years until his ouster in 1992 elections, captured the capital, Brazzaville, on Wednesday from Lissouba forces.
"Today the war is over. We control all of the country and all major cities," Jean-Marie Tassoua, a top commander in the militia, said by telephone Wednesday evening.
Sassou-Nguesso planned to speak to the nation before the weekend, Tassoua said.
State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa confirmed the fall of Brazzaville and said there was no significant fighting in the city Wednesday. Kinshasa is the capital of Congo, the former Zaire, located just across the river from the Republic of Congo.
Brazzaville's capture was reported earlier by witnesses, diplomats and military sources.
Angolan troops helped Cobras take the Republic of Congo's second-largest city, the Atlantic coastal town of Pointe Noire, according to Rubin and others.