Central African Republic: Major Tasks Ahead of the New Prime Minister

A street in Bangui.

Firmin Ngrebada will start by forming a government of national unity to end years of internecine civil strife.

The Central African Republic, CAR's most recent peace accord signed in the capital, Bangui, on February 6, 2019 - the eighth since 2013 - is gradually taking shape after President Faustin-Archange Touadera on February 25, 2019 appointed a new Prime Minister. Firmin Ngrebada, 51, hitherto President Touadera's Minster of State, Chief of Staff or Director of Cabinet, is tasked with forming a government of national unity. This is sequel to the peace agreement negotiated and initialled in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum on February 5, 2019 by the government and 14 rebel groups.

A former labour inspector, Ngrebada, replaces Mathieu Simplice Sarandji, who on February 22, 2019 resigned alongside his government to pave the way for the implementation of the peace deal. He was Deputy Di rector of Cabinet to then Prime Minister Faustin-Archange Touadera (2008-2013) under ex-President François Bozizé. Ngrebada is an inlaw and key ally of President Touadera, reason why he was chosen to lead the government delegation to the Khartoum peace talks.

Generally considered as a skilful negotiator, the new PM is credited with Central African Republic's tilt towards Russia, which has recently become a major military and political partner to Bangui. His foremost task is to ensure that the agreement is respected, reassure the international community of the country's drive for better governance, and conduct free, fair and transparent elections in 2021.

Above all, a major achievement for the new PM will be to get the 14 armed groups cede 80 per cent of the mineral-rich country, which they currently control, to the central government in Bangui. Ngrebada began his political career in 2008 as Deputy Chief of Staff to PM Touadera. He later became Director of Cabinet to National Transitional Council President, Alexandre N'Guen det. Firmin Ngrebada is also credited with Touadera's electoral victory in 2016 - having put together and managed his campaign team.

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