Central African PM Replaced Amid Tensions Over Russia, France Rival Factions


The Central African Republic’s prime minister has been sacked against the backdrop of tensions between pro-Russian and pro-French factions within the government in Bangui.

Henri-Marie Dondra was named prime minister in June 2021, shortly after Paris froze budgetary aid to Bangui, accusing it of “complicity” in what Paris called a Russian “disinformation” campaign against the country’s former colonial ruler France.

According to a spokesman for the Presidency, Dondra was reportedly “fired” and replaced by his economy minister, Felix Moloua, confirming a weekend report by online news website Africa Intelligence.

The move came as CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadera was attending an African Union summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

Moloua, a Touadera loyalist and a technocrat, was sworn-in as prime minister earlier this Wednesday.

Russian influence

Moscow’s importance in the Central African Republic has increased steadily over the past four years.

In 2020 Russian military contractors alongside Rwandan troops were called upon to subdue a rebellion against Touadera.

With their help, CAR government forces recaptured as much as two-thirds of the country – and several major towns – that had fallen under rebel control.

At the time of Dondra’s appointment as prime minister he was perceived as more “pro-French” than his predecessor Firmin Ngrebada, seen as more sympathetic to Moscow.

Mineral-rich but rated the world’s second-poorest country according to the UN’s Human Development Index, the CAR has been chronically unstable since independence 60 years ago.

A civil war broke out in 2013, pitting multiple militia groups against a state on the verge of collapse, leaving thousands of people dead and forcing more than a quarter of the 5 million population to flee their homes.