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Henri-Marie Dondra: A Comeback to Central African Politics

After 21 months of silence, Henri-Marie Dondra has reentered the political arena with the launch of his new party, UNIR (Unité républicaine). In an exclusive interview, Dondra sheds light on his return and the vision behind UNIR.

Central African Republic’s (CAR) new prime minister Henri Marie Dondra makes a statement during the transfer of power in Bangui on June 15, 2021. – The appointment of Henri Marie Dondra comes after Firmin Ngrebada announced his resignation as prime minister, along with that of his government. (Photo by Barbara DEBOUT / AFP)

Why the Return to Politics Now?

Dondra underscores his enduring commitment to public service in his homeland, highlighting his engagement in shaping the political landscape since a young age. Departing from his previous political affiliations, Dondra saw Unir as a vessel to perpetuate his political journey. The party’s foundation is rooted in his unwavering principles—advocating for peace, social justice, democracy, inclusion, and a transformative force for the nation.

Timing and Rationale for the Comeback

After six years of dedicated service to the President of the Republic, initially as a minister and later as Prime Minister, Dondra took a deliberate hiatus for introspection. The decision to reenter politics was carefully calculated, aligning with a belief that the opportune moment had arrived.

Presidential Ambitions with Unir?

Dondra dismisses speculation about Unir serving as a platform for his presidential candidacy in 2025. The current focus is on laying the groundwork for the party, with immediate goals centered on addressing issues of precarity and enhancing the well-being of citizens.

Political Positioning Amid Polarization

Unir positions itself at the center of the political spectrum, offering a viable third way between polarized extremes that have impeded constructive dialogue. Dondra emphasizes the party’s commitment to moderation, reconciliation, and fostering unity.

Engagement with Power and Opposition

Unir’s approach involves engaging with both the government and the opposition, reflecting a commitment to tolerance and recognizing the necessity of involving all segments of society in nation-building.

Aspirations for Local Elections

While contemplating participation in local elections, Dondra indicates that this ambition will be subject to internal discussions within the party. However, there is a strong inclination to actively contribute to these electoral processes.

Perspectives on New International Alliances

Dondra supports the idea of sovereign nations cultivating relationships with various countries globally. Whether with France, Russia, China, the United States, or others, he emphasizes the importance of ensuring mutually beneficial relationships that safeguard the nation’s autonomy.

Evaluation of Current International Relationships

While refraining from making direct comments on existing relationships, Dondra acknowledges that leaders must safeguard national interests in international dealings.

Navigating Pressure Regarding the Wagner Group

Dondra expresses confidence in the government’s ability to manage discussions with the United States regarding its relationship with the Wagner Group. He highlights the positive impact of cooperation with Russia in stabilizing the country during periods of security challenges.

Future Reassessment of Partnerships

Dondra refrains from committing to an immediate reassessment of existing partnerships, citing that it is not a priority at the moment, especially in the context of the upcoming presidential election. Nevertheless, he leaves the door open for potential discussions in the future.