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CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Former ruling party apologises to nation

BANGUI, 8 October 2003 (IRIN) - The former ruling party in the Central African Republic (CAR), the Mouvement de liberation du peuple centrafricain (MLPC) of former President Ange-Felix Patasse, has apologised to the nation for its mismanagement between 1993 and 2003.

"The MLPC solemnly presents its sincere apology to the entire CAR people," Hugues Dobozendi, the party's deputy chairman, said on Monday at the ongoing national reconciliation talks being held in the capital, Bangui. He said the party acknowledged its errors in the political, economic and social spheres.

Headed by Patasse since 1979, the MLPC lost power on 15 March, when Francois Bozize overthrew Patasse in a coup. Patasse's administration was marked by repeated mutinies and coup attempts. The 1996-7 mutinies ended with a national reconciliation pact in February 1998. Dobozendi said ex-President Andre Kolingba violated the pact when he attempted a coup on 28 May 2001, as did Bozize when he launched the rebellion against Patasse in October 2002.

"Since 1960 no head of state has respected his commitments," Dobozendi said, adding that all of them, including Patasse, should seek national forgiveness. Kolingba has already apologised to the nation for the excesses committed during his rule between 1981 and 1993 and for the May 2001 coup attempt; he did so in address to 350 delegates attending the national reconciliation conference.

Former president David Dacko failed to attend it due to health problems. Patasse, now exiled in Togo, was not allowed to attend.

Dobozendi described relations between Patasse and the MLPC as "calamitous", with party faithfuls forced to act as "firemen". He referred Patasse's methods of rule as "arbitrary, anti-democratic and authoritarian" and reproached him for spending more time on his businesses than on governance. Dobozendi also accused Patasse of dividing the party along ethnic and regional lines.

Dobozendi's declaration marks a new era in the MLPC's view of the political situation in the country. Since Bozize's March coup, the party has just "taken note of the change" and offered its support to Bozize, but had not until now openly criticised its chairman, Patasse. The MLPC is represented by two ministers in the transitional government and by Dobozendi on the National Transitional Council.

Theme(s): (IRIN) Governance

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