CAR

CAR: Former ruling party supports new leader

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BANGUI, 21 March (IRIN) - The former ruling Mouvement de liberation du peuple centrafricain (MLPC) of ousted President Ange-Felix Patasse has recognised Francois Bozize as the new president of the Central African Republic (CAR), and declared itself ready to take part in a consensual transitional government, provided that the security of its leaders and militia is guaranteed.
"Mr President, the MLPC, on behalf of which I speak today, has taken note of the change that has occurred at the top of the state... and of the declaration you have made about a consensual transition," Jacquesson Mazette, the minister of state for the interior under Patasse and an MLPC leading figure, said on Thursday during a meeting of political parties with Bozize.

In his speech, carried on Roman Catholic Radio Notre Dame, Mazette welcomed Bozize and urged him to take the necessary steps to reassure the MLPC leaders and members who were now under serious threat.
"If we are to take part in that consensual transition you have announced, we ask you to take the necessary measures to ensure that we cannot be hunted down any more and can return to our homes in peace and tranquillity," said Mazette, recalling that their homes existed only in name, because they had all been looted.

Mazette and many of his colleagues are among 110 people who took refuge in the Nigerian embassy following Bozize's coup on 15 March. Tents to shelter them from rain are being pitched by soldiers of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States (CEMAC) force, and the International Committee of the Red Cross is liaising with the embassy on health matters.

In response, Bozize, whose office is in Camp Beal, a former French military base, recognised that there was insecurity in the capital, and said this justified his call for foreign troops.

"We have launched an appeal to the Chadian army together with CEMAC and local security forces in order to settle that problem," Bozize said.
He added that MLPC militiamen had been mainly responsible for the looting of administrative offices and shops. He said MLPC leaders had distributed firearms to the party's militia.

Since arriving in Bangui on Wednesday, about 100 Chadian soldiers have been patrolling the streets, blocking access to the city centre and setting up checkpoints. They are also disarming the "false" security personnel - the youngsters armed with guns stolen from the presidential residence who were involved in massive looting. On Thursday evening, dozens of vehicles previously believed to belong to the "liberators" were seized and parked near Chadian checkpoints before being returned to their owners.

The presence of the Chadians appears to have reassured the population. Traffic has resumed even though petrol stations remain closed. Some shops have also reopened.

Apart from the MLPC, other important political forces have already offered their full support to Bozize. Twelve opposition parties grouped under the Concertation des partis politiques d'opposition (CPPO) have declared themselves ready to take part in the transitional administration.

So has the Rassemblement democratique centrafricain (RDC), the party of former President Andre Kolingba, who attempted his own unsuccessful coup in May 2001. In a communique issued on Wednesday, the RDC demanded a general amnesty for all those party members, including Kolingba, who were sentenced in absentia in connection with the failed coup. The communique asked party members to place themselves at the disposal of the new authorities.

The Mouvement pour la democratie et le developpement (MDD) of former President David Dacko, issued a communique saying that Bozize's ideas conformed with the ideals Dacko had always defended. The communique, issued on Wednesday, indicated that the MDD would contribute to the building of a new CAR.

[ENDS]

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