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CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Bozize sacks his deputy

BANGUI, 16 March 2005 (IRIN) - Vice-President Abel Goumba expressed anger at his sudden dismissal on Tuesday by President François Bozizé, two days after presidential and parliamentary elections, but before completion of the vote counting.

"I am disgusted by the way this has been done," he told IRIN on Wednesday. He said he had not been officially informed and only learned about his dismissal on state radio.

Goumba, 78, was an opposition leader for four decades, running for president four times since 1980, including the elections on Sunday.

In 2002, he headed a group of political leaders, known as the Collectif des partis politiques de l’oposition (CPPO), which supported Bozize in taking power from President Ange-Felix Patasse on 15 March 2003. Bozize had led an armed rebellion that lasted six months before he ousted Patasse.

However, a day before his dismissal, Goumba and other members of CPPO signed a petition complaining of fraud during Sunday's vote.

Observers do not consider Goumba to be a serious contender for president, although, according to one local politician, "I suspect the fact that he refused to join the coalition to elect Bozize was what cost him the vice-presidency".

Presidential spokesperson Alain-George Ngatoua told IRIN on Wednesday that the vice-presidency had been dissolved "because the new constitution does not make provision for the position of vice-president", and that it had nothing to do with Goumba's performance.

Bozize is grateful to Goumba for his "wisdom and courage" in helping to bring about the transition, Ngatoua said.

The constitution came into effect in December 2004, though Goumba had told IRIN in February that the institutions of the transitional government, such as the vice-presidency, "should remain in effect until the elected government takes power".

No date has been set for the inauguration of the new government. The electoral commission has until 28 March to release election results.

Theme (s): Governance,

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

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