10 August 2014

Central African Republic: CAR President Names Muslim As New Premier

Photo: HDPT Central African Republic
A member of the self-defense group carrying his traditional rifle in a flower field, around the village of Sambaye, 10 km west of Bozoum, Ouaham Pende Prefecture, northwest CAR, 28 June 2008. Local militias recruit among the villagers on a voluntary basis -- women can also be members. UNICEF advocates to communities to prevent the use of children in their ranks.

Central African President Catherine Samba Panza has named a Muslim as the country's new prime minister. The appointment is a bid to make the government more representative of CAR's religious diversity.

Central African President Catherine Samba Panza on Sunday named Muslim politician Mahamat Kamoun as her new prime minister, replacing Andre Nzapayeke, who resigned last week to allow the formation of a more inclusive government in an effort to end sectarian violence between Muslims and Christians.

The appointment was announced on state-run radio by a spokesman for the presidency.

Kamoun served as a senior advisor to the leader of the Seleka rebel group, Michel Djotodia, after the latter briefly seized power last year, then became a special advisor to the Christian Samba Panza herself.

He will lead a transitional government tasked with organizing elections in the country, which has been stricken by more than a year of fighting between Muslim Seleka rebels and Christian militia.

Inconclusive peace deal

The turmoil in CAR began with the overthrow of President Francois Bozize, a Christian, by Seleka rebels in March 2013.

In December 2013, Christian militia attacked the capital, Bangui, in response to 10 months of brutal rule by Seleka forces, unleashing a cycle of violence that has killed thousands and made hundreds of thousands more homeless.

Representatives of the Seleka and the Christian "anti-balaka" ("anti-machete") militia signed a peace agreement in neigboring Republic of Congo on July 23, but sporadic bloody fighting has continued.

Panza asked Nzapayeke to resign to "allow for the effective implementation of the commitments made in Brazzaville, including national reconciliation," a presidential spokesman said at the time.

 - AFP, dpa, Reuters

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