BANGUI, 6 March (IRIN) - Central
African Republic (CAR) President Ange-Felix Patasse issued a decree on
Tuesday establishing a commission to rehabilitate former civil servants
returning from exile, and to propose their reintegration, according to
government-owned Radio Centrafrique.
It reported on Wednesday that a magistrate of the Court of Appeal (Cour de Cassation) would head the commission, which is expected to complete its work in three months. Members of the commission will comprise the chief prosecutor and representatives from the defence and public service ministries, labour unions and the CAR lawyers' association. The decree indicated that the commission would be expected to submit a report to the president on completion of its mandate.
The radio said the commission would "carry out a census of [former] civil servants returning from exile, check the circumstances of their going into exile, and ask them whether they wished to resume service [in their original departments] or be transferred to another service".
Intellectuals and civil servants fled the country due to internal conflict. Yakoma (former President Andre Kolingba's ethnic group) civil servants, intellectuals and about 1,500 soldiers fled to neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of Congo following Kolinba's 28 May 2001 abortive coup.
More CAR nationals fled following the 2 November 2001 armed resistance and the 25 October 2002 coup attempt by the former army chief of staff, Francois Bozize. Most of those who left in 2002 were members of Bozize's Gbaya ethnic group. Troops loyal to Bozize have since been fighting the government's forces. Patasse has on many occasions urged Bozize's men to lay down their arms and rejoin the army.
Analysts see Patasse's formation of the commission, which follows his call for a national dialogue, as a manifestation of a more positive attitude towards his opponents, who have used the non-rehabilitation of former civil servants as an argument against his leadership.
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