Ange-Felix Patasse, 74, who led the desperately poor nation of Central African Republic for a decade before being ousted in a 2003 coup, died April 5 at a hospital in neighboring Cameroon, his spokesman said. He was reported to have had diabetes.
Mr. Patasse returned from exile in late 2009 and finished second in January’s presidential election. He lost to President Francois Bozize, who, as head of an insurgent army that seized the capital in a hail of mortar fire, had overthrown Mr. Patasse.
Mr. Patasse served in several positions as minister and then prime minister under former dictator Jean-Bedel Bokassa before becoming president in 1993 and winning reelection in 1999.
Opponents, though, accused Mr. Patasse of rampant corruption, and he survived repeated attempted coups as well as military mutinies over unpaid salaries and labor disputes.
Then, in 2003, he was toppled in a coup while outside the country and went into exile in Togo. Thousands of people could be seen ransacking Mr. Patasse’s lavish private residence, shouting “Patasse out!” as the invading fighters looked on.
Mr. Patasse was born in Paoua in the Central African Republic on Jan. 25, 1937, and was the country’s last surviving former president.
Central African Republic has faced five coups and a number of army mutinies since independence from France 50 years ago.
Despite the nation’s wealth of gold, diamonds, timber and uranium, Bozize’s corruption-addled government remains perpetually cash-strapped. Its authority is mostly limited to the capital, and armed bandits and insurgents roam the anarchic countryside.