Coup leader and self-proclaimed president Michel Djotodia has formed a caretaker government for the Central African Republic. In addition to the presidency, Djotodia will also assume the post of defense minister.
In a decree read on national radio Sunday, Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye named the new transitional cabinet, which includes nine members from Djotodia’s rebel Seleka coalition.
On Wednesday, Djotodia (pictured above) had asked Prime Minister Tiangaye to continue in his post. Tiangaye also served as premier under ousted President Francois Bozize.
The 34-member cabinet is to include eight ministers from the former opposition and one minister from Bozize’s camp. The remaining ministers are largely unknown figures.
On Saturday, Djotodia said he would hand over power after elections scheduled for 2016, promising not to contest the polls himself. He launched a coup last weekend, claiming that ousted President Bozize had not respected the terms of a January peace deal with the Seleka rebels.
“I ask God Almighty to give myself and my prime minister the strength and intelligence…to manage the Central African Republic well over the coming three years,” Djotodia said. “We will hand over power to whoever comes to succeed us.”
Bozize fled with his family to Cameroon, but has asked the West African nation of Benin to grant him residence. He lived in exile in Benin during much of the 1980s.
The United States has condemned the coup and threatened to freeze $2.2 million (1.71 million euros) in aid that it sends to the Central African Republic.
“We strongly condemn the illegitimate seizure of power by force by the Seleka rebel alliance, Michel Djotodia’s self-appointment as president, and his suspension of the constitution and National Assembly,” said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland on Saturday.
On Friday, the Red Cross said that it had found some 78 bodies in the streets of the Central African Republic’s capital, Bangui, in the wake of the coup.
Drinking water and electricity have been cut in parts of Bangui and the United Nations has warned that tens of thousands of people face severe food shortages.
The Central African Republic, with a population of 4.5 million, is one of the world’s poorest countries despite being rich in gold, diamonds and uranium.
slk/ccp (AFP, dpa, Reuters)