Central African Republic rebels gain key positions in government

Posted Feb 3, 2013 by Raluca Besliu
On Sunday, the Central African Republic’s (CAR) Prime Minister, Nicolas Tiangaye, unveiled a national unity government as part of a power-sharing agreement with the Seleka rebel coalition.
A boy in the Central African Republic s Birao town largely burnt down during fighting in 2007
A boy in the Central African Republic's Birao town largely burnt down during fighting in 2007
The Seleka coalition was launched in August 2012 and is made up of breakaway factions from three former armed groups. It consists of Nureldine Adam’s Wa Kodro Salute Patriotic Convention (CPSK), Dhaffane Mohamed Moussa’s Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP), and a dissident faction of the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR) led by Michel Djotodja. The first two rebel groups had reached peace agreements with the government and were supposed to cease fighting. The rebels claim that President Bozize, who gained power in 2003 through a coup and subsequently won elections in 2005 and 2011, has failed to uphold a 2007 peace agreement, and have pledged to depose him unless he started negotiating with them.
After the rebels gained control of around one-third of the country and were quickly approaching Bangui, CAR’s capital, President Bozize agreed to hold talks, which, on January 11, 2013, led to the creation of a national unity government as part of a deal to end the insurgency.
Opposition leaders and senior levels were granted key positions in the new 32-member cabinet. Tiangaye himself, a lawyer and leader of the opposition Republican Convention for Social Progress, who had been declared prime minister on January 17 with the rebels’ support and had been tasked to form a new government until parliamentary elections next year, gained the key finance ministry. At the same time, the Seleka coalition’s leader, Michel Djotodia, was appointed as defence minister and deputy prime minister, while other senior rebels were assigned to the communications and forestry ministries.
A former housing minister with close ties to the rebels was given the mining ministry. Nevertheless, some of Bozize’s political supporters obtained key positions, such as economy, international cooperation and foreign affairs, while Bozize shall remain president, until his current term ends in 2016.
While the fighting seems to have stopped, the humanitarian crisis continues. Around 800,000 people are believed to be living in areas controlled by the Seleka coalition, while around 700,000 individuals in Bangui remain affected by the conflict. Due to increased instability in the CAR, aid agencies had to either suspend their assistance programs or relocate to Cameroon to provide support services. After the ceasefire, most agencies returned to work in the CAR, but property damage caused during the insurgency prevented them from starting their work. At the same time, domestic commercial flights to Bangui have been cancelled and the fuel supplies currently run short.
At the same time, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) emphasized that the malaria crisis, which is already “holoendemic,” meaning that almost every individual of the CAR’s 4.4 million population is infected at least once a year, is likely to worsen as a result of the insurgency, given that access to health care has become significantly more difficult for tens of thousands of internally displaced people.
The UN Security Council has decided to extend the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA) until January 31, 2014, in an effort to strengthen its peacemaking efforts in the country.