Central African Republic gets new government

2016-04-12 05:14
A view of the River Ubangi and the deserted streets of Bangui, gripped by renewed violence. (Edouard Dropsy, AFP)

A view of the River Ubangi and the deserted streets of Bangui, gripped by renewed violence. (Edouard Dropsy, AFP)

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Bangui - The Central African Republic unveiled on Monday its first new government since a peaceful presidential vote in February seen as a step toward reconciliation after years of sectarian violence.

Prime Minister Mathieu Simplice Sarandji's cabinet announced on national radio has 23 members, with none drawn from the Muslim and Christian militias behind the bloodletting sparked by a coup three years ago.

Three candidates who came up short against President Faustin-Archange Touadera, elected in a February 14 run-off vote, are in the cabinet, including Defence Minister Joseph Yakete.

Jean-Serge Bokassa, tapped for interior minister, and Charles Armel Doubane, who will handle foreign affairs, also ran unsuccessfully to lead the war-torn nation.

CAR's most recent episode of bloodletting was sparked by the March 2013 ousting of long-serving president Francois Bozize, a Christian, by the mainly Muslim Seleka rebel alliance.

The coup sparked a series of revenge attacks involving Muslim forces and Christian vigilante groups known as "anti-balaka" (anti-machete) militias.

Thousands were slaughtered in the spiral of atrocities that drove about a tenth of the population of 4.8 million to flee their homes.

The new cabinet will also include some familiar faces, with at least three having served under Touadera when he was Bozize's prime minister from 2008-2013.

Among them are: Leopold Mboli-Fatrane, who is responsible for mines in the mineral-rich nation, and Theodore Jousso, transport and civil aviation minister.

Marking a success in CAR's effort to return to normalcy, it was readmitted last week to the African Union, ending a three-year suspension following the 2013 coup.

The bloc lauded CAR for "successfully holding" the elections, which passed off without violence despite widespread fears of unrest.

The violence disrupted farming, transport and public services in one of the world's poorest nations and was so serious that France - the former colonial power - launched a military intervention and the UN deployed a peacekeeping force.

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