Central African Republic

Bangui Public Prosecutor Firmin Seindiro is seeking an 18-month prison sentence against Jude Zossé, director of the private daily "L'Hirondelle" (The Swallow"). Zossé is charged with "insulting the head of state". The journalist, who has been detained since 25 February 2004, was not granted a provisional release. A verdict in the case is expected to be delivered on 12 March.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will repatriate refugees from neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) using the Oubangui river which, besides serving as the border between the two countries, has been closed to human traffic since September, a senior UNHCR official said on Monday.

Newly appointed Central African Republic (CAR) Prime Minister Celestin Le Roi Gaoumbale has formed a new transitional government to replace the one of Abel Goumba who was dismissed last Thursday and has since been appointed Vice-President, the minister for communication and government spokesman, Parfait Mbay, announced on Friday on state-owned Radio Centrafrique. The new government comprises 28 ministers, including two women and six military officers.

After years of civil strife, the Central African Republic (CAR) has, since March 2003, lived through a period of relative calm. This has enabled the transitional government of Francois Bozize to plan a phased demobilisation, disarmament and reintegration (DDR) process targeting ex-rebel fighters and former government soldiers.

The government of the Central African Republic should appoint women to a male-only Ministry of Planning committee charged with vetting projects for submission to donors, a former government minister, Lucienne Goddot, said. "It is difficult to get a project presented by women's NGOs approved for funding [by the committee]," she told IRIN.