No deal on new power-sharing PM for CAR

2013-01-14 09:13
Nicolas Tiangaye. (File, Sia Kambou, AFP)

Nicolas Tiangaye. (File, Sia Kambou, AFP)

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Bangui - Opposition leaders and rebels in the Central African Republic have yet to strike a deal on naming a new prime minister to share power with embattled President Francois Bozize, the president's camp said on Sunday.

Under a ceasefire signed on Friday to end a rebellion that had advanced to the doorstep of the capital, Bozize must form a national unity government with a prime minister named by his opponents.

But after a leading figure in the political opposition, lawyer Nicolas Tiangaye, said on Sunday he had been named the new premier, Bozize's camp said the rebels had not yet agreed to the choice.

"There are two oppositions. There is also the rebel opposition," said Josue Binoua, who was territorial administration minister in the cabinet Bozize dismissed on Saturday to clear the way for the national unity government.

"The president is waiting for written notice from [the rebels] telling him their proposal," which would then be submitted along with Tiangaye's name to a committee of regional mediators overseeing implementation of the ceasefire deal signed in the Gabonese capital, Binoua told AFP.

Bozize "doesn't want to be accused of not respecting the Libreville accords," he added.

Earlier, Tiangaye had told AFP he had been "appointed unanimously by my peers", and that he was awaiting an official appointment by Bozize.

"We chose Tiangaye unanimously. We all back him," said leading opposition figure Martin Ziguele.

Tiangaye led the political opposition's delegation to the talks in Libreville, where three days of tough negotiations brokered by regional mediators produced a deal signed by the government, the rebels and the opposition.

A lawyer by training, he made a name for himself by defending Jean-Bedel Bokassa, the impoverished country's former self-proclaimed emperor, and by arguing for Rwanda before the International Criminal Court.

Powerful struggle

He is a former head of the Central African Human Rights League; ex-president of the national transition council set up after Bozize swept into power in a 2003 coup; and one of the main authors of the constitution adopted the following year.

The ceasefire aims to resolve a conflict sparked on 10 December when a coalition of rebel groups calling itself Seleka launched an armed offensive, sweeping from the lawless north of the Central African Republic southwards before stopping just short of the capital, Bangui.

To comply with the accord, which called for an immediate ceasefire, Bozize dismissed former premier Faustin Archange Touadera on Saturday.

The new premier will face the challenge of forming a government representing not only the opposition and the governing party but also Seleka and other rebels who had signed prior peace deals in the mineral-rich but notoriously unstable country.

"The jockeying is about to begin. Everyone's going to try to get the most posts possible," a member of the opposition said on condition of anonymity.

Sources close to Seleka say the rebels want the defence ministry, but that some within the movement are opposed to the ceasefire deal.

"It cannot be a purely political [cabinet]," said European Union ambassador Guy Samzun. "Given the size of the task at hand, it has to be a government composed of all the parties but also have competent people and people with integrity."

"A power struggle is going to take place," said another observer. "Bozize is going to do everything he can to undermine the [new] government. Right now he's in a hole, but he's a fighter and he's going to come back. He is cunning and he knows how to put strategies in place."

Bozize gathered at least 3 000 supporters on Sunday for a rally at the main stadium in the capital.

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