First Muslim prime minister appointed in Central African Republic
BANGUI, Central African Republic – The Central African Republic named its first Muslim prime minister on Sunday, August 10, as part of an effort to create a more inclusive government and end more than a year of sectarian violence.
Mahamat Kamoun, formerly a special advisor to interim President Catherine Samba-Panza, will lead a transitional government that is seeking to implement a precarious ceasefire signed late last month.
He was appointed by presidential decree, according to an announcement on state radio by a spokesman for the presidency.
A specialist in finance, Kamoun was the director general of the treasury under former president Francois Bozize, in power from 2003 to March 2013.
Together with Samba-Panza, a Christian, he faces the difficult task of revitalizing a delicate political transition aimed at ending deadly sectarian violence and disarming militias in one of Africa's poorest countries.
Representatives of the main groups involved in the fighting – the mainly MuslimSeleka rebel coalition and predominantly Christian anti-balaka forces – signed a tentative ceasefire at talks in neighboring Congo in July.
As part of that agreement, the government stepped-down on Tuesday, August 5, in order to make way for one that is more inclusive.
The anti-balaka (anti-machete) forces were formed following the overthrow of Bozize by the Seleka coalition in March 2013.
The Seleka carried out a campaign of violence against the majority Christian community in the aftermath of the takeover, prompting the creation of the vigilante militia.
Thousands have died and around a quarter of the country's 4.5 million population have been displaced in the conflict. Much of the country's Muslim community have fled their homes, with others sheltering in camps.
Despite the peace accord, tensions remain high in the country, where this week several Seleka militiamen were killed in a clash with French peacekeepers and rival anti-balaka factions fought in Bangui. – Rappler.com