News / Africa

New CAR Government Taking Shape

Newly parliamentary-elected interim President of the Central African Republic Catherine Samba-Panza walks into the National Assembly prior to her swearing-in ceremony in the capital Bangui, Jan. 23, 2014.
Newly parliamentary-elected interim President of the Central African Republic Catherine Samba-Panza walks into the National Assembly prior to her swearing-in ceremony in the capital Bangui, Jan. 23, 2014.
Nick Long
The Central African Republic's new interim president, Catherine Samba-Panza, faces massive challenges after more than a year of political unrest and inter-religious violence in the country. On Tuesday, the interim leader and her prime minister announced the names of the ministers who will serve in the new government.
 
At her swearing-in ceremony last week, the president promised a government of technocrats. She also said the new government’s priority would be to disarm and demobilize all the armed groups in the country and ensure they re-enter civilian life.
 
Human rights activist Thierry Konde, who heads a network of activists in the C.A.R., said the president has delivered on the first of her promises.   
 
The new ministers really are technocrats, he said. They know their dossiers, and while there might be some people criticizing them already, he believes they can really achieve something and should be given the chance to do so.
 
Out of 20 ministers, only about six were ministers in previous governments.  Seven are women, a record for the C.A.R.  The women are not just there for the décor, added Konde. They are all experts in their respective fields.
 
The influx of women has pleased Marie Veronique Manda Kondji, a midwife.
 
It’s the beginning of a reign of women, she thinks. She feels that a woman can represent everyone, that a woman is the symbol of softness and smiles and that a woman can also act as a mother for the nation.
 
The government also includes three ministers who were in the largely Muslim Seleka rebel alliance that took power in Bangui last March, and one minister associated with the largely Christian or animist anti-Balaka militia that has been fighting the Seleka.
 
Konde comments that it is a good idea, at this stage, to have people from the militias involved in the government. 
 
One of the three ex-Seleka ministers has been appointed senior Minister of State, meaning he is No. 3 in the hierarchy after the prime minister. The anti-Balaka’s man, Leopold Narcisse Bara, comes 19th in the hierarchy as Minister of Youth and Sport.
 
Joachin Kokate, a leading spokesman and self declared coordinator of the anti-Balaka, which have killed many Muslim civilians in the past two months, told VOA that anti-Balaka members don’t feel the Minister for Youth and Sport represents them. However, he added, they understand that the choice has been made, and they must move on because the Central African people are watching them - so is the international community, very closely.
 
Maybe Bara was considered acceptable because, according to Thierry Konde, he is not known to have been inciting ethnic and religious hatred, unlike some of the other anti-Balaka. Konate told VOA that now is the time for messages of peace.
 
At this time we must speak only in terms of pacification, he said. As for those who will try to incite people or divide the population, the United Nations will take the necessary measures from this point onwards.
 
Kokate said the anti-Balaka consists partly of ex-soldiers who want to be incorporated into the army, with officer ranks in some cases, and partly of civilians, many from rural areas, who want help to go home. He acknowledged that the Seleka come from similar backgrounds and said that so long as they are Central Africans, they should also be offered the chance to enroll in the army.
 
The new Minister of Defense is a relatively young man and a serving soldier, Thomas Theophile Tchimoanga. He will have the difficult task of rebuilding the C.A.R. army and deciding which militia fighters to put where.
 
Encouragingly, he seems to have support from the army hierarchy.
 
Politician Joel Yangongo, the son of the veteran general and politician Xavier Sylvestre Yangongo, is optimistic that Tchimoanga is ready for the task.
 
Joel Yangongo said the new defense minister is young but has a very good reputation with the Central African military, has the skills required, was trained at a military college and knows all about the army.
 
The anti-Balaka’s other main demand, according to Kokate, is that a sovereign national conference be held in the near future. However, he pointed out that this could wait until after the national elections.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid