Bangui, Central African Republic, 5 Jumadil Akhir 1434/14April 2013 (MINA) – Michel Djotodia, whose oppsition movement coalition Seleka seized power in the Central African Republic last month, was on Saturday elected interim president by the national transitional council, Humanitarian News reported.
Djotodia, who had proclaimed himself president after his troops took Bangui on March 24, was the only candidate in the vote held during the opening minutes of the council’s first session.
The interim president is to rule for no longer than 18 months, during which time the 105-member transitional body will act as a constituent assembly.
The council includes Seleka officials, members of the ousted administration as well as civil society representatives.
A diplomat speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity described the election as a move that was needed “to give a veneer of legitimacy” to Djotodia’s rule.
Central Africa’s neighbours and Western partners have warned they could not recognise Djotodia’s rule but have also conspicuously stopped short of supporting the return of ousted leader Francois
Previous week, Djotodia said he will step down if not selected by a council created to a choose an interim president.
“Djotodia said he would accept the decision of the council even it meant stepping down from his position,” our correspondent Nazanine Moshiri reported from Bangui on Sunday (7/4) according to Al Jazeera reports monitored by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)
“He said he wants to legitimise the interim government’s standing in the international community.”
It was not immediately clear how quickly the participants would choose a transitional leader, though the establishment of a selection process appeared aimed at solidifying Djotodia’s credentials as president after he took over the country in a coup on March 24.
Djotodia led the overthrow of President Francois Bozize in a coup that was condemned by United States, and came at the cost of sanctions.
Djotodia’s comments came a day after he had issued a presidential order setting up a council to lead a transitional government until elections can be held within 18 months.
Christophe Gazambetty, communications minister of the CAR, said new elections could take up to two years to arrange.
“We have security issues to sort out, plus people need hospitals, schools and water. That’s a basic minimum. Democracy is not just about going to the ballot box,” he told Al Jazeera.
According to the UN, essential services like water and electricity have been interrupted, while only two hospitals remain functional in Bangui, creating a humanitarian crisis.
But Djotodia told Al Jazeera that the UN figures were incorrect and misleading.
“Djotodia said there were elements creating insecurity, but his army were disarming them,” our correspondent said.
The CAR has been wracked by a series of coups and rebellions since its independence from France in 1960.
The country is rich in diamonds, gold and uranium through the chronic instability and lack of infrastructure has kept many foreign investors from working in the country. (T/P09/E1)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA).