The former prime minister Jean-Paul Ngoupande, whose short-lived reformist administration foundered on the inveterate opposition of the president, Ange-Felix Patasse, to transparency and privatisation, staged a triumphal return to Bangui on June 16th. After several months in France, he returned to launch the campaign of the Parti de l'unite nationale (PUN), which he set up in April, for this year's legislative election. Mr Ngoupande is considered a likely candidate for the presidency in 1999, although he has been careful not to commit himself. At this stage, both his prospects and those of his party are difficult to gauge. He has said that he was surprised to be greeted at the airport by so many thousands of enthusiastic supporters. However, while such displays of popular backing may offer encouragement to the former prime minister, they are a poor measure of national feeling.