By John Ikani
Central African Republic Prime Minister Firmin Ngrebada and his government resigned on Thursday, setting the stage for a political reshuffle in an impoverished country struggling with a rebellion and a bustup with its traditional ally France.
The development comes amid a turbulent week in Bangui after the French military announced it was suspending military operations with Central African Republic.
Ngrebada wrote on Twitter that he had “presented (his) resignation to the president,” Faustin Archange Touadera.
But presidential spokesman Albert Yaloke Mokpeme told AFP that he may be asked to stay and form a new government.
“We will know within a few hours if the president keeps the prime minister on,” Albert Yaloke Mokpeme said.
Critics had been calling for Ngrebada’s ouster since March, when President Faustin Touadera was sworn in for another five-year term.
Some raised concern about the prime minister’s apparent ties to Russia, whose influence in the former French colony is growing.
The prime minister had been appointed to the job as part of a 2019 peace deal in Khartoum that now appears on the verge of collapse.
Central African Republic is the second least-developed country in the world according to the UN and suffers from the aftermath of a brutal civil conflict that erupted in 2013.
Touadera was re-elected in December on a turnout of fewer than one in three voters.
The ballot was hampered by armed groups that at the time controlled around two-thirds of the country, and rebels mounted an offensive in the runup to polling day.
Since then, the army, backed by UN peacekeepers, Rwandan special forces and Russian paramilitaries, has wrested much of the territory from rebel control.