New Central African Republic gov't faces criticism

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Associated Press

Posted on April 2, 2013 at 11:05 AM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 2 at 11:06 AM

BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — Central African Republic's prime minister vowed to press ahead Tuesday with his new government after members of nine opposition parties said they were withdrawing from the coalition now dominated by former rebels.

Nicolas Tiangaye, who has remained prime minister since thousands of armed fighters toppled longtime President Francois Bozize more than a week ago, says he and other opposition figures will still take part.

"Those who don't want to work in the government will not be forced to do so," he told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Tiangaye will represent Central African Republic at talks scheduled for Wednesday in neighboring Chad, where regional mediators are due to discuss the country's ongoing political crisis.

However, rebel leader and newly self-appointed President Michel Djotodia will not be attending the meeting. The African Union suspended Central African Republic's membership following the seizure of power, and Djotodia and other rebel leaders are also subject to AU travel restrictions.

Djotodia, who says he intends to serve as president until the next elections were due in 2016, had announced a new list of government ministers late Sunday.

Not only will Djotodia hold the defense ministry, but his allies also will control the ministries of mines, commerce, communication, and security and public order, according to a decree issued on letterhead that reads "presidency of the republic."

In a letter of protest, the opposition parties said they would be suspending their participation in the new government.

The parties "were informed like all other Central Africans — by radio broadcast — of the composition of the new national unity government," they said.

Djotodia has moved swiftly toward re-establishing the government following Bozize's March 24 ouster. The longtime president has sought refuge in neighboring Cameroon, and is seeking exile in the West African state of Benin.

Bozize, Djotodia and his rebels, and opposition leader Tiangaye all had signed a peace accord in January that was to allow Bozize to fulfill his term in office. The deal unraveled amid allegations about broken promises by Bozize's government.

Thousands of rebels invaded the capital on March 23, seizing control of the presidential palace and ultimately the city. The United States, African Union and others have sharply criticized the rebels' overthrow of the government.

Djotodia has justified his rebellion by saying that Bozize had veered into dictatorship during his 10 years in power.

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Associated Press writer Jose Richard Pouambi contributed to this report.

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