Bangui, 20 Jumadil Awwal 1434/1 April 2013 (MINA) – The Central African Republic’s prime minister has named mostly Seleka and opposition figures to his new post-coup government, as reports emerged of child soldiers killed in the fight for the capital.
Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye — who has been allowed to keep his post by new strongman Michel Djotodia, whose seized the capital a week ago — named a 34-member cabinet Sunday that includes nine ministers from the Seleka rebel coalition, Modern Ghana reported as monitored by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA).
The new government, named in a decree read on national radio, also includes eight ministers from the former opposition and one close to ousted president Francois Bozize. Seleka leader Djotodia, who named himself president after ousting Bozize last Sunday, added the post of defence minister to his job titles.
The petroleum, security, water and forestry, and communications ministries also went to Seleka members.
Djotodia’s rebels launched a rapid-fire assault on the capital, Bangui, last weekend to oust Bozize after the collapse of a January peace deal.
After days of looting and chaos, rebel soldiers have largely secured the city with the aid of a regional African force.
But troubling reports of child soldiers being killed in the battle for Bangui were published Sunday in South Africa, which had sent troops to the Central African Republic in a failed effort to stabilise the country before Bozize’s fall.
“It was only after the firing had stopped that we saw we had killed kids,” a paratrooper who took part in the fighting told the Sunday Times.
Around 200 South African troops fought against some 3,000 rebels during the battle for Bangui, which lasted several hours.
In what has turned out to be South Africa’s heaviest military loss since apartheid, 13 soldiers were killed in the fighting.
South Africa’s government is facing increasing calls at home for a probe into why President Jacob Zuma sent troops to the Central African Republic.
Djotodia vowed Saturday to hand over power at the end of a three-year transition and not contest elections in 2016. “I hope to be the last rebel chief president of Central Africa,” he told a crowd of supporters.
Since independence from France in 1960, the country has had a slew of coups and strongmen.
Religious tensions have risen in the largely Christian country since Djotodia, a Muslim, became president. Bozize often accused the rebel chief’s followers of being fundamentalists. (T/P09/P03)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)