The entire cabinet is pulling out in the latest political crisis to hit the country, but the president’s spokesman said the prime minister could be asked to lead the new administration.
Firmin Ngrebada, Prime Minister of the Central African Republic (CAR), has resigned along with the entire cabinet, the latest political crisis to hit the war-weary country.
Thursday’s development came in a turbulent week after France announced it was suspending military operations with its former colony.
Ngrebada said on Twitter that he handed in his resignation and that of the government to President Faustin-Archange Touadera, but a presidential spokesman told AFP news agency that the prime minister could be asked to lead a renewed administration.
“We will know in a few hours whether the president maintains the prime minister,” said Albert Yaloke Mokpeme.
I have just handed over to His Excellency the President of the Republic His Excellency Pr Faustin Archange TOUADERA my resignation and that of the government. pic.twitter.com/XUe8aZgayG
-Firmin Ngrebada (@FirminNgrebada) June 10, 2021
Translation: I have just submitted my resignation and that of the government to His Excellency the President of the Republic Faustin Archange Touadera
Former Touadera chief of staff, Ngrebada had been in office since early 2019, when he helped craft a peace accord signed in February 2019 with rebel groups in Khartoum, which now appears to be on the verge to collapse.
CAR has seen waves of deadly inter-communal fighting since 2013 that has killed thousands of people and displaced many more. Violence resumed last year after the Constitutional Court rejected the candidacy of former President François Bozizé in the presidential election in December.
Touadera was finally re-elected with less than one in three voters. Voting was hampered by armed groups that then controlled around two-thirds of the country, and a rebel coalition aligned with Bozizé launched an offensive on the capital, Bangui, as election day approached.
Legislative elections have since left Touadera’s United Hearts Movement short of a parliamentary majority, but observers say in key votes it can count on the support of a large number of independent MPs, many of whom were previously associated with the left.
Critics have been calling for Ngrebada’s departure since March, when Touadera was sworn in for a new five-year term.
Some have expressed concern about the Prime Minister’s apparent ties to Russia, whose influence in the CAR is growing.
In Bangui, some felt that Ngrebada had done its best given the growing presence of armed groups in vital sectors of the country’s economy.
“Nonetheless, he maintained the balance by paying salaries, pensions and telling the truth to the armed groups who chose him to be prime minister,” Eric Kpari, a student at the University of Bangui, told the Associated Press news agency.
Others, however, felt that his tenure as prime minister failed to bring much-needed change after years of conflict.
“We expected him to revive the economy through work and revive good governance,” said Evelyne Rodongo. “Unfortunately, it was during his tenure as Prime Minister that the scandals multiplied.”
Earlier this week, around 160 French soldiers who were providing operational support, while training the Central African forces, suspended their mission. The decision did not affect the 100 or so French soldiers involved in United Nations peacekeeping forces and European Union training forces in the country.
French officials accused the authorities in Bangui of not having carried out anti-French disinformation campaigns online, targeting in particular the ambassador and the country’s defense attaché. They also cited the government’s treatment of the political opposition.