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Rebels, opposition form government in CentrAfrica: decree

Michel Djotodia (L) speaks with Nicolas Tiangaye on Republic Plaza in Bangui on March 30, 2013
New Central African Republic leader Michel Djotodia (L) speaks with Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye on Republic Plaza in Bangui on March 30, 2013. Tiangaye on Sunday named his new post-coup government mostly made up of rebels and members of the former opp

The Central African Republic's Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye on Sunday named his new post-coup government mostly made up of rebels and members of the former opposition, under a decree read on national radio.

The 34-member cabinet includes nine ministers from the rebel Seleka coalition that has been in power for a week, eight from the former opposition and one close to ousted president Francois Bozize.

Tiangaye was brought back by former rebel Michel Djotodia who mounted a coup a week ago and named himself president.

Among Seleka figures in the new cabinet are Petroleum Minister Gontran Djono, Security Minister Nourendine Adam, Mohamed Moussa Dhaffane in water and forestry, and Christophe Gazam Betty in communications.

Strongman Djotodia will take the post of defence minister.

Former democratic opposition member Crepin Mboli Gonda took a ministerial post as well as being named government spokesman.

The outgoing premier, also from the opposition, was brought back Wednesday and promised that all aspects of political life would be represented in his government, as laid down in the Libreville accords signed in January by the rulers, opposition and rebels.

Djotodia vowed Saturday to hand over power at the end of the three-year transition he declared after his coup, and not contest the 2016 elections.

Djotodia spoke at a rally of up to 3,000 supporters in the riverside capital Bangui, as the United States condemned his "illegitimate seizure of power" and called for a rapid return to democracy.

"I ask God Almighty to give myself and my prime minister the strength and intelligence... to manage the Central African Republic well over the coming three years," said Djotodia.

"We will hand over power to whoever comes to succeed us."

The latest in a long line of coup leaders, Bangui's new strongman said the rebels had come to power not through "political ambition but through national duty."

"I hope to be the last rebel chief president of Central Africa," Djotodia told the crowd.

Since independence from France in 1960 the Central African Republic has had a slew of coups and strongmen including the eccentric leader Jean-Bedel Bokassa who declared himself emperor in 1976 until his ouster three years later.

Religious tensions have risen in the largely Christian country since Djotodia, a Muslim, became president. Bozize often accused his followers of being fundamentalists.

After days of looting and chaos which followed last Sunday's bloody coup, rebel soldiers have largely secured the capital with the aid of a regional African force.

However fuel shortages and a lack of water and electricity in some areas mean life remains difficult in parts of the capital.

Djotodia launched a rapid-fire assault on the capital last weekend to oust Bozize after the peace deal collapsed as the rebels claimed he did not honour its terms.

Seleka had first launched a rebellion in December over Bozize's failure to honour earlier peace pacts, which brought them within striking distance of Bangui and led to the signing of the latest deal.

The coup was welcomed by many in a city tired of Bozize's unfulfilled promises to rebuild the nation by harnessing its stores of oil, gold and uranium, and years of civil discontent.

However fear quickly set in as swarms of armed men and gangs of looters roamed the city in the wake of the coup.

The Red Cross said Friday it had found some 78 bodies in the streets of Bangui since the coup. South Africa lost 13 soldiers in the fighting last weekend.