CAR president dissolves government, vows unity


Tue, Jan 20, 2009 - Page 6

Central African Republic President Francois Bozize dissolved the government on Sunday, a decree broadcast on national radio said, after pledging to form a unity government at recent peace talks.

While no explanation was given for Sunday’s move, Bozize had promised a new unity government after peace talks aimed at halting a near civil war ended last month.

During a visit to Libreville last week, Bozize had said a government would be formed “very soon,” without providing further details.

The current government led by Prime Minister Faustin-Archange Touadera was formed in January last year.

The long-delayed dialogue at last month’s 12-day peace talks brought together some 200 representatives of Touadera’s government, opposition, civil society groups and rebel movements. It was aimed at paving the way to ending unrest in the impoverished and landlocked country.

A new “consensus” government should be tasked with “restoring peace and security throughout the country” and “work for genuine and lasting reconciliation among its citizens,” the final report from the talks said.

It admitted that “the many forums for reconciliation and dialogue have not enabled the Central African Republic to be rooted definitively in peace, stability and development, as shown by the insecurity and tragic events that occur in the north of the country.”

A highlight of the conference that brought together the country’s various factions was the return of former president Ange-Felix Patasse after five years in exile in Togo to attend the talks.

Patasse made a striking vow to recognize Bozize, who ousted him in the 2003 coup, rather than call for his removal as some of his opponents have insisted.

“The solution is not to ask you to leave power. It rests mainly in the prospect of bringing the people to democratic, transparent and fair elections in 2010,” he said.

The report recommended the holding of municipal elections this year, followed by presidential and parliamentary polls next year.

It also called for auditing several economic sectors, disarming former combatants and creating a truth and reconciliation commission.

One of the world’s poorest countries, the Central African Republic has been racked for years by insecurity with rebel groups, bandits and government troops blamed for widespread criminal activity.

Following mediation efforts by Gabon, the government signed four peace accords with rebel groups between February 2007 and June last year.

Bozize first came to power in 2003 when as armed forces chief of staff he ousted the increasingly unpopular elected president Patasse after years of political turmoil and economic woes.

Once in power Bozize found the state coffers were virtually empty and began anti-corruption measures.

In May 2005, he won an election for president after overseeing a political transition.