AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
Published — Saturday 12 January 2013
Last update 13 January 2013 12:21 am
BANGUI:Central African President Francois Bozize sacked yesterday his prime minister to comply with the terms of a ceasefire deal reached with a rebel coalition during talks in Libreville.
Faustin Archange Touadera was dismissed as prime minister in a decree read out on public radio and should be replaced by a member of the opposition.
The ceasefire was announced after three days of talks in the Gabon capital between the government and Seleka rebels who launched an offensive on Dec. 10.
The rebels swept aside the impoverished country’s army, but stopped just short of the capital Bangui.
The government and rebels signed a ceasefire accord. The two sides and Central African Republic’s political opposition also signed two political accords allowing for the appointment of a prime minister from the opposition and setting out other power-sharing details, according to the United Nations.
The talks were organized by the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) which had sent troops to the troubled country as Bozize faced mounting pressure.
Chad’s President Idriss Deby, current ECCAS head, said the opposition and Bozize should start work on the transitional government “from tomorrow”.
Under the accord, Bozize will be allowed to finish his mandate which ends in 2016 but he cannot replace the new prime minister during the transition period. Bozize has said he will not stand for a new term.
The agreement also calls for the withdrawal of “all foreign military forces” except those sent by the ECCAS countries. Seleka made this demand specifically to secure the withdrawal of about 200 South African troops sent in December.
The UN Security Council welcomed the signature of the ceasefire, in a statement, which “emphasized the necessity of an expeditious implementation of these agreements and called on all parties to implement them in good faith.”
The 15-nation council “urged all parties to allow safe and unhindered access to peoples in need of humanitarian assistance as quickly as possible” and for all civilians held by armed groups to be released.
The United Nations withdrew non-essential staff and the dependents of all workers in December as rebels neared Bangui.
The UN humanitarian department, OCHA, has voiced serious concern about the plight of civilians amid reports of widespread looting and violence.
The UN’s World Food Program, which has suspended its operations in the country, says hundreds of tones of food have been stolen from warehouses across the country.
Central African Republic has been notoriously unstable since its independence from France in 1960.
Bozize took power in a coup in 2003 and has since won two elections.
The rebels accused Bozize of failing to uphold earlier peace deals and had called for him to face war crimes charges at the International Criminal Court.
They also said he planned to modify the constitution to allow him to seek a third term in 2016.
Up to 500 soldiers from Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad and Cameroon were sent after troubles in 2008. These troops have begun to pull out of the country.