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Roundup: Central African Republic forms new government
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08:31, January 22, 2009

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The Central African Republic's new government has been nominated by President Francois Bozize one month after the conclusion of inclusive political dialogues in the capital Bangui, according to information monitored here on Tuesday.

The 32-member government headed by Prime Minister Faustin Archange Touadera includes 21 ministers, four ministers of state and seven delegate ministers.

President Bozize dissolved the previous government on Sunday before the new line-up was made known the next day. Touadera, who became premier in January 2008, retains his post at the head of the government.

Among the cabinet members, Gambi Antoine replaced Dieudonne Kombo Yaya as the foreign minister, Ouande Jules Bernard took over security portfolio from former interior minister Raymond Paul Ndougou, Gon Baba Laurent succeeded Thierry Savonarole Maleyombo as the justice minister and Besse Albert became the finance minister in replacement of Emmanuel Bizot.

Former defense minister Francois Bozize was renamed the delegate minister in charge of national defense.

Some portfolios went to former rebels such as the Popular Army for the Restoration of the Republic and Democracy (APRD).

The APRD is one of the major three rebel groups invited to the Dec. 8-20 dialogues in Bangui. The other two include the Union of Democratic Forces of Reassembly and the Democratic Front for the Central African People.

The new government is largely seen as a care-taking body leading to the municipal and legislative elections in 2009 and a presidential vote in 2010.

The formation of a government and vote schedules were part of the recommendations reached during the Bangui dialogues involving both ruling and opposition parties, the civil society and rebel groups.

Early in the month, former communication minister Cyriaque Gonda, who retains the portfolio as the minister of state in the new government, also said the recommendations include a disarmament committee to be set up in the near future.

The committee will be a replacement of the one that was designated to follow the "comprehensive peace agreement" signed between the government and rebels on June 21 in Libreville, the capital of Gabon.

While the progress is widely applauded, the UN Peace building Commission expressed caution on Tuesday, saying "efforts to achieve improvement in security, rule of law and development will remain stalled" in the country, unless simultaneous results are achieved on three fronts: disarmament and reintegration, employment opportunities and good governance.

Last week, the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved the deployment of some 5,500 peacekeepers to replace European troops in strife-torn areas of Chad and the Central African Republic until March 15, 2010.

The northern part of the Central African Republic is still affected by a spill-over from Sudan's Darfur conflict and by other armed groups, the world body said, adding 500 of the peacekeepers will be deployed in the country.

In June, the country was placed on the agenda of the UN Peace building Commission, which aims to help states emerging from conflicts to avoid sliding back into war or chaos.

The Central African Republic won independence from France in 1960. The landlocked country of 4 million population has been plagued by a series of coups and revolts, and ranked as one of the poorest in the world despite its rich resources of timber, gold, diamond and uranium.


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