|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6091st Meeting (PM)
FRAMEWORK FOR LASTING PEACE IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC STILL ON TRACK
DESPITE REBEL ATTACKS, SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL
The framework for lasting peace agreed in the Central African Republic following inclusive political talks late last year remained on track, despite a recent wave of rebel attacks on northern villages, the top United Nations official in the country told the Security Council today.
“Prospects are still good for overall progress towards sustainable peace in Central Africa,” said François Lonseny Fall, outgoing Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BONUCA), as he briefed Council members for the first time since the conclusion of the 8-20 December inclusive political dialogue. The country’s leaders and other stakeholders were committed to meeting the aims of the talks, but would surely need the international community’s assistance to do so.
He said the dialogue had covered a broad range of issues and included a diverse range of participants, reflecting the national will to end conflict in the country. A new, inclusive Government had been established in early January, and a steering committee dealing with disarmament, demobilization and reintegration had already made initial contacts with rebel groups. It was expected formally to begin its work shortly, with the help of the United Nations and the African Union. Some bilateral and multilateral partners, including the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC), had already responded positively.
Providing some background on the process, Mr. Fall said the talks, held in the capital, Bangui, had been the result of a “tremendous” two-year effort by national stakeholders and a host of international partners, such as the United Nations, African Union, Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and others. Former President Ange-Felix Patassé and a number of other exiled politicians had participated, as had pro-Government political parties, opposition leaders and moderate political groups, and representatives from among rebel movements and civil society.
Chaired by Pierre Buyoya, former President of Burundi, the talks had seen a number of important agreements reached at the end of the 12-day talks, he said. In the political and governance arena, it had been agreed to establish a broad-based Government to implement the outcomes of the dialogue, and prepare for municipal, legislative and presidential elections in 2009 and 2010. The parties were committed to holding those elections, and had also pledged to hold independent audits of revenue-generating State institutions and to establish mechanisms to promote permanent dialogue among political and social actors.
On the security front, he continued, participants in the dialogue had agreed, among other things, on implementing security-sector reform, restructuring the national armed forces, combating the proliferation of small arms and introducing measures to identify and indemnify victims of past conflicts. In the socio-economic area, agreement had been reached on reforming public policies and the management of natural resources and on further developing human resources.
Despite that progress, however, there had had been heightened tension and unrest in the north of the country, said Mr. Fall, noting that there had been several recent “daring attacks” against Government institutions and military outposts in Ndele, Markounda, Bossembele and Batangafo. In addition, riots had broken out in several Bangui neighbourhoods following attacks on the Chief of Police and his guards. The Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP) and the Democratic Forces for the People of Central Africa (FDPC) had claimed responsibility for most of the violence, accusing the Government of going back on its word to implement the outcome of the dialogue.
Also briefing the Council, Jan Grauls ( Belgium), Chair of the Central African Republic configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, said the dialogue’s recommendations were being implemented and the Commission’s Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in the Central African Republic would soon be finalized.
He agreed that major challenges remained, however, especially in dealing with the fighting in the north, which had led to the displacement of thousands of civilians. Calling upon all parties to show restraint and avoid reprisals, the Commission encouraged them to implement the recommendations from the inclusive dialogue as soon as possible. The most pressing issues now were preserving the momentum of the inclusive dialogue and finalizing the disarmament programme. However, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) could not implement the disarmament programme without a complete list of combatants from each military group. The deadline for submitting the lists had been extended until 16 March, but further delay was not acceptable.
Calling on the international community to contribute urgently to the fund set up by UNDP for that purpose, he said the country had been seriously impacted by the global financial crisis and the Peacebuilding Commission was committed to seeking mechanisms to meet that impact. In that regard, it advocated the creation of an integrated United Nations office in the Central African Republic, which required rapid implementation of the Secretary-General’s recommendations, given the urgent need for a consolidated approach by the United Nations.
Echoing those sentiments, the representative of the Central African Republic emphasized the urgent need for that office, since the complex solutions offered by the inclusive political dialogue could only be achieved within the framework of an integrated process. Given the exemplary cooperation between the Peacebuilding Commission and the Government, once the Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding had been finalized, the integrated office would play an essential role in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process and the United Nations would be able to speak with a single voice.
The meeting began at 3:10 p.m. and ended at 3:40 p.m.
* *** *