New cabinet ministers have been appointed in the transitional government of the Central African Republic, an important step toward establishing a grassroots national dialogue that will pave the way for elections to restore the troubled nation to democratic rule.
In one of his first acts since being named prime minister by interim President Catherine Samba-Panza, Mahamat Kamoun named 31 officials to head the ministries that will work to rebuild the shattered country. The C.A.R. has been wracked by violence since the Seleka armed group began a rebellion in November 2012, which led to the overthrow of former President Francois Bozize.
The new cabinet, which includes 23 men and eight women, also has representatives from both the Seleka and the anti-balaka militias that formed to resist the Seleka after it took control, as well as representatives from a range of CAR political organizations.
Over the last year and a half the C.A.R. has had three presidents and three prime ministers. The inter-communal violence that has accompanied the political crisis has displaced over a million people and cost an estimated 2,000 lives. A hundred and fifty thousand C.A.R. refugees have been forced into neighboring countries by the fighting since December 2013.
The United States has been heavily engaged in helping to address the nation’s humanitarian crisis and we welcome the announcement of a new, more representative government there. We call on all of the ministers to move ahead quickly with the democratic transition process and to demonstrate by their actions that they govern in the interest of all of C.A.R.’s people by including their voices in a broad-based, inclusive national dialogue. Such a transition process and dialogue are critical in reuniting the nation.
We categorically reject challenges to CAR’s territorial integrity and believe the nation’s hopes rest on unity and reconciliation. The dangers of division have been obvious over the last 18 months.
The new government, and indeed all citizens, must now focus on the hard work of national dialogue and consultation, leading to a democratic transition and elections next year.