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Leaders of former ruling party arrested

Eight executive board members of the former ruling party in the Central African Republic (CAR) were arrested on Sunday as they held a meeting in the capital, Bangui, Communication Minister Parfait Mbaye told IRIN.

He said the Mouvement de Liberation du Peuple Centrafricain (MLPC) leaders had been organising "subversive meetings" to destabilise the new administration in Bangui.

Former army chief of staff Francois Bozize ousted the MLPC-led government of Ange-Felix Patasse on 15 March.

Those arrested included the former minister of state for communication and MLPC second deputy chairman, Gabriel Jean Edouard Koyambounou, the former MLPC secretary-general and Patasse's special adviser, Joseph Vermont Tchendo, and the former minister of education, Andre Ringui.

Since the coup, all three men had been hiding in the Nigerian, Chadian and Japanese embassies, respectively. Former Prime Minister Martin Ziguele is still hiding in the French embassy, together with several other former ministers.

"These people go out of embassies and organize subversive meetings to destabilise the regime," Mbaye said.
He added that all the eight MLPC leaders were held in a Bangui police station.

Mbaye said a demonstration on Friday by students who were demanding scholarship payments had been planned during meetings such as the Sunday one by the MLPC executive board. "The [Sunday] meeting was planning other subversive demonstrations," Mbaye said.

Mbaye said that Bozize, who was visiting Equatorial Guinea on Sunday, had directed that the eight be released and taken to their homes where soldiers would be put at their disposal, for their protection.

A local daily newspaper, "L'Hirondelle", reported on 23 May that mercenaries linked to Patasse had launched a rebellion in the country's eastern provinces, allegedly with political support from MLPC leaders in Bangui. However, no political or military source has confirmed this report.

In March, Patasse, who is in exile in Togo, announced that he would form a movement, the Front de Liberation du Peuple Centrafricain, with the aim of removing Bozize from power.

The Sunday arrests of the MLPC officials were the first, by Bozize's administration, since the coup.

The MLPC, which is represented in the transitional government and council, has complained on several occasions of harassment by the new administration.

In April, Bangui's state prosecutor froze the bank accounts for 26 former ministers.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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