Opposition, rebels take key posts in new Central African Republic government

BANGUI Sun Feb 3, 2013 11:26am GMT

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BANGUI (Reuters) - Opposition parties and a rebel coalition took key ministerial posts, including finance and mining, in a new government announced on Sunday as part of a peace deal in the Central African Republic.

President Francois Bozize agreed in mid-January to the formation of a national unity government as part of the deal to end an insurgency which swept to within striking distance of Bangui, capital of the mineral-rich former French colony.

After days of tense negotiations, during which Bozize's supporters insisted he had the right to name key ministers, state radio announced on Sunday that opposition Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye would take the crucial finance ministry post in the new 32-member cabinet.

Tiangaye, a lawyer and leader of the opposition Republican Convention for Social Progress, was named premier on January 17 with the backing of the Seleka rebel coalition and asked to form a government tasked with leading the impoverished and strife-torn country to parliamentary elections within a year.

Seleka's leader, Michel Am Non Droko Djotodia, was named first deputy prime minister in charge of national defence. Senior rebels were also appointed to the communications and forestry ministries.

The mining ministry was given to Djono Ahaba, a former housing minister who is close to the insurgents.

Representatives of opposition political parties were appointed to the ministries of public works, education, telecommunications, health and farming.

Bozize's supporters were appointed to important portfolios including economy, international cooperation and foreign affairs.

Seleka, a coalition of five separate rebel groups, launched its insurgency in early December, accusing Bozize of reneging on a 2007 peace deal which was supposed to provide jobs and money to insurgents who laid down their weapons.

As part of the deal, Bozize, who seized power in a 2003 Chadian-backed coup, will be allowed to serve out his current presidential term, which ends in 2016.

(Reporting by Paul-Marin Ngoupana; writing by Daniel Flynn; editing by Andrew Roche)

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