Central African rebel leader declares autonomous republic

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - A rebel leader in Central African Republic has declared an autonomous state in his northeastern stronghold after rejecting elections this month that are aimed at ending years of bloodshed, his spokesman said on Tuesday.

"The Republic of Logone was proclaimed Dec. 14 in (the town of) Kaga-Bandoro," Maouloud Moussa, a spokesman and chief lieutenant for rebel leader Noureddine Adam, told Reuters. "What we want first of all is autonomy. Then we'll look at how to move towards independence."

The spokesman for Central African Republic's transitional government immediately denounced the rebels' declaration.

"We call upon the international community and the international forces present in Central African Republic to do everything possible to neutralize the capacity to do harm of these terrorists," said Dominique Said Panguindji.

Adam, one of the main leaders of the Seleka rebel coalition, used intimidation in areas under his control to block voting on a crucial constitutional referendum on Sunday, rights campaigners said.

He had called for the referendum and polls scheduled for Dec. 27 to be canceled, but voting went ahead yesterday under U.N. protection.

(Reporting by Crispin Dembassa-Kette; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)