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CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Bozize appoints prime minister

Bangui, 24 March 2003 (IRIN) - The new leader of the Central African Republic (CAR), Francois Bozize, has appointed Abel Goumba as prime minister of a transitional government.

Goumba, 76, who is one of the founding fathers of the CAR in the 1950s, said it would take him at least a week to form his government.

"I cannot form a government without first having consultations with all the political forces, all the stakeholders, and the diaspora," he told IRIN on Sunday, just hours after his appointment.

He said the Concertation des partis politiques d'opposition, an alliance of 12 opposition parties, should perform an important role in the new administration.

Bozize, who seized power in a coup on 15 March, immediately engaged in intense consultations with political actors inside the country, including ousted President Ange-Felix Patasse's Mouvement de liberation du peuple centrafricain (MLPC). He enacted a transitional constitution, which does not set a time-frame for the transition.

A leading MLPC figure and former interior minister, Jacquesson Mazette, said on Saturday that his party's executive board would meet to decide whether it would be in the opposition or join the new government.

Meanwhile, hundreds of soldiers registered over the weekend to resume service on Monday, after a week of uncertainty. At least 1,000 soldiers - some in uniform, others in civilian clothes - registered on Saturday at one centre, the Ecole superieure d'administration et de magistrature.

At the same time, the military authorities organised door-to-door searches in Bangui's various suburbs for goods stolen during the massive looting that engulfed the capital in the aftermath of the coup. Soldiers, policemen and peacekeepers of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States (CEMAC)loaded trucks with recovered property for return to its owners. A similar operation to recover and return stolen vehicles has been ongoing since Thursday, led by the 100 Chadian soldiers reinforcing the 303-strong CEMAC force.

Life in the capital began returning to normal on Monday, with the reopening of shops and markets. Small numbers of cars appeared on the streets after the reopening of two petrol stations, selling rations of up to 10 litres to each vehicle.

Bozize conducted a number of meet-the-people tours in different parts of the city over the weekend, seeking to reassure local residents, business people and traders, and members of various religious denominations.

Theme (s): Governance,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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