Jean-Paul Ngoupandé (born December 6, 1948) is a Central African politician. Born in Dékoa, Kemo-Gribingui, he was appointed as Prime Minister of the Central African Republic by President Ange-Félix Patassé on 6 June 1996 and resigned on 30 January 1997. Since then he has run for president of the Central African Republic twice and served as foreign minister for one year. He is President of the National Unity Party (Parti de l'unité nationale, PUN), an entity which he founded in the mid-1990s. He presents himself as an enemy of corruption and a defender of fair elections and democratic institutions. His tenure as Prime Minister (and simultaneously as Minister of Finance) was marked by the implementation of an open-door economic policy through structural adjustment. Ngoupandé fell into a dispute with President Patassé over the speed of these reforms, and resigned in favour of Michel Gbezera-Bria in early 1997. Standing as his party's candidate in the presidential election of 19 September 1999 (won by the incumbent Patassé), he received 3.14 percent of the vote, in sixth place. On 10 October 2004, the National Unity Party announced that Ngoupandé would contest the presidential election of 13 March 2005 under its banner. The election marked a return to democratic rule after the coup d'état of 15 March 2003, which installed Gen. François Bozizé as president of an interim government backed by Chad. In January 2005, Ngoupandé returned to Bangui from exile in Paris. In his campaign, he emphasized the need to bring peace and stability to the country, especially those areas most affected by rebel activity before the coup. His candidacy was originally disqualified on a technicality on 30 December 2004, along with six others, but it was reinstated by Bozizé along with two others on 4 January 2005. He received fourth place and 5.08% of the vote in the first round, and he was also elected to a seat in the National Assembly from Dékoa in the first round, one of 17 candidates (out of 105 seats) to win a seat in the first round. On April 21, 2005, Ngoupandé signed an agreement to support Bozizé in the second round of the election. After Bozizé's victory in the second round, held in May, Ngoupandé was named Minister of Foreign Affairs in the government of newly-appointed Prime Minister Élie Doté on 19 June 2005. On January 1, 2006, Ngoupandé was taken to the Val-de-Grâce hospital in Paris after suffering a heart attack. After treatment, he returned to Bangui on February 12. He served as Minister of Foreign Affairs until September 2, 2006, when he left that position in a cabinet reshuffle and instead became special advisor to Bozizé.
The combination of two factors — globalisation following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the arrival of a new generation of leaders in France — profoundly, and in my opinion irreversibly, altered the nature of the relationship between France and the African States which had maintained close links since 1960.
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