Restive Central African Republic appoints new PM to head same cabinet

BANGUI— The Central African Republic’s Economy Minister Felix Moloua became premier on Wednesday after the president fired the post’s predecessor.

Moloua is to retain his ministry position while also becoming the new head of government in the former French colony, according to a presidential decree read on public radio.

The rest of the cabinet line-up remains the same.

The 64-year-old replaces Henri-Marie Dondra, who was sacked on Monday as tensions have escalated between pro-Russian and pro-French political elite.

Russia’s influence in the mineral-rich country has steadily increased in recent years.

In late 2020, at Bangui’s request, Russian military contractors helped quell a rebellion against President Faustin-Archange Touadera.

Dondra was appointed prime minister in June 2021, after France suspended budgetary aid, accusing Bangui of going along with a Russia-led disinformation campaign.

Dondra was perceived to be more pro-French than his predecessor, who was seen as sympathetic to Russia.

But analyst Roland Marchal said that Dondra had little influence over the defence and foreign ministers and pro-Russian parliament speaker.

Moloua, the new prime minister, is considered a Touadera loyalist and a technocrat “with no political profile”, according to a diplomat who requested anonymity.

Trained as a demographer, he was the chief of staff at the economy ministry for eight years before being assigned the portfolio by Touadera in 2016.

The Central African Republic is rated the world’s second-poorest country by the UN’s Human Development Index, and has been wracked by political instability since independence 60 years ago.

A civil war erupted in 2013, killing thousands and displacing more than a quarter of the country’s 4.9 million people from their homes.

While the violence had decreased in recent years, it resumed abruptly when rebels launched their failed offensive to overthrow Touadera.


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