Central African Republic rebels still in control of cabinet despite reshuffle


A cabinet reshuffle in Central African Republic requested by the international community to reduce the dominance of rebel leaders who seized power in a March coup has left the representatives of the SELEKA coalition in most of the top cabinet posts.

A decree by Interim President Michel Djotodia issued on Thursday showed that although SELEKA members hold fewer ministries, they do still have the mining, security, economy, trade and communications posts in the mineral-rich state.

Djotodia, the rebels’ leader, kept the defense ministry post in the chronically unstable former French colony, Reuters reports.

The political opposition has about 10 ministries in the 34-member cabinet, including the finance and budget ministries. Supporters of toppled president Francois Bozize, who himself seized power in a 2003 coup, hold six ministries.

The government issued an arrest warrant for Bozize on May 31, accusing him of crimes against humanity.
“The aim of this reshuffle is simply to make a fairer distribution of posts among the principle political forces,” Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye, who is not a SELEKA member, told Reuters.

Having immediately denounced Djotodia’s seizure of power as illegal, regional leaders have since recognized him as the country’s transitional leader but stopped short of embracing him officially as president. They called for him to make his government more inclusive in the run up to elections in 2015.

The six-nation central African bloc CEMAC was due to meet in the Gabonese capital Libreville on Friday.

Djotodia has struggled to rein in his former rebel fighters who were accused by rights group Human Rights Watch last month of executing opponents, raping women and looting homes – acts that could constitute war crimes.

The European Union, meanwhile, suspended its more than $200 million aid program, warning it would not resume until the rule of law was re-established.