Mr. Gaye, who also heads the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA), said that the tragedy in that country could be vividly illustrated through numbers: 25,000 people evacuated to their country of origin; 1,000 people had been killed since 5 December 2013; one in five Central African Republic citizens internally displaced; and 100,000 people currently gathered in camps around Bangui M’Poko International Airport.
“Today, people in Bangui can die because of their religious beliefs, because of their clothing style or just because of their physical appearance,” he said.
Still, he remained hopeful, saying the expected reinforcement of the African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA) with a contingent from Rwanda and the continued engagement of French troops made possible free, credible and democratic elections. “To summarize the situation: the hope is within grasp, but not yet in our hands,” he said.
When asked about the current state of violence in the country, he said that while fewer people were losing their lives now than in December, the underlying causes of the conflict remained, and, “unfortunately, the hate is still there”.
On the possibility of a United Nations peacekeeping presence in that country, he said that some religious leaders there had called for the establishment of such a force, but he understood that the preconditions for a successful deployment first needed to be put in place. He asked the international community to be patient.
He urged the international community in the meantime to throw its support behind the current efforts of MISCA and the French troops taking part in Opération Sangrais. “The fight for peace is not something that should be done in isolation; on the contrary, quite the opposite.”
Regarding the timeline for elections, Mr. Gaye said that the recommendation was to expedite the process to elect a new Head of State as soon as possible. The interim President had 15 days to organize the election of a new Head of State of the transition. “We are confident that this timeline should be respected and we may even deliver in less time,” he added.
Responding to a question about what kind of role former President François Bozize might have in the upcoming elections, he said that during recent meetings on the transitional process held in N’djamena, Chad, none of the participants supported the idea of Mr. Bozize’s return to power.