(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

Bozize sacks justice minister

The leader of the Central African Republic (CAR), Francois Bozize, has dismissed the minister for justice, Lea Koyassoum-Doumta.

Bozize gave no reason for the dismissal in a presidential decree read on Friday over state-owned Radio Centrafrique.

Koyassoum-Doumta is also the secretary-general of the Parti de l’unite nationale (PUN) of former Prime Minister Jean-Paul Ngoupande, whose presidential candidature was blocked by a transitional constitutional court, but was later cleared to contest.

Following the court's decision on 30 December invalidating seven of 15 presidential candidates, Koyassoum-Doumta was quoted on the independent Fondation Hirondelle radio saying, "We cannot leave irresponsible people to rule our country." She was speaking in her capacity as PUN secretary-general.

The court's decision to bar some of the presidential candidates led to a political crisis - with political parties whose candidates were disqualified, including the former ruling party, the Mouvement de liberation du peuple centrafricain (MLPC) of former President Ange-Felix Patasse, calling for the dissolution of the transitional constitutional court.

On 4 January, Bozize decided to authorise three of the seven barred candidates to contest the presidency, a measure he said was intended to preserve peace and support the nation's international donor organisations for the electoral process.

Presidential and parliamentary elections, scheduled for 13 February, would mark the country's transition to democracy and end Bozize's transitional administration.

Koyassoum-Doumta had been the justice minister since September 2004 when Bozize reshuffled his cabinet, moving her from the Ministry of Social Affairs, a post she had held since Bozize named his cabinet soon after he seized power from Patasse on 15 March 2003.

Meanwhile, the Mixed Electoral Commission, known by its French acronym CEMI, announced on Sunday that it had cleared 709 of 970 candidates who had declared their interest in parliamentary seats.

CEMI spokesman Rene Sangaka-Morouba told IRIN on Sunday that applications for 261 candidates had been rejected because of discrepancies in their documents.

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