Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks at the high‑level meeting on the Central African Republic, in New York today:
I am pleased to join you and I thank you for attending this meeting on the Central African Republic.
The coming period will be decisive for the country. The presidential, legislative and local elections represent a unique opportunity for national reconciliation and the consolidation of peace, as well as the country’s constitutional order and democratic achievements. The elections also constitute a crucial step for the continuity of the political process. In that connection, the Political Agreement of 6 February 2019 remains the only viable framework for lasting peace in the country.
I welcome the support of some groups for my call for a ceasefire, which was reiterated last week. I hope that the commitment in that regard of the main armed groups in the Central African Republic will help in consolidating the gains achieved with the Peace Agreement. The authorities of the Central African Republic and all national stakeholders have a historic responsibility to ensure the proper conduct of these elections, which must be free, transparent, safe, inclusive and within the constitutional time limits.
I therefore call upon all stakeholders to prioritize national dialogue and consensus‑building, in a spirit of respect and tolerance between different ethnic groups and religions. All segments of the population of the Central African Republic, in particular women, young people, internally displaced persons and refugees, must be at the centre of efforts to consolidate democracy and, consequently, of this electoral process.
It is vital for the international community to remain mobilized to support the peace process in a coordinated manner. In that regard, I thank all the mobilized partners that have provided significant support and the technical assistance needed for the preparation of the elections. I appeal to all the partners to show their generosity in order to close the financial deficit for not only the presidential and legislative elections to be held in December, but also the local elections to be held in 2021.
All the people of the Central African Republic, including those who have taken refuge and have been generously welcomed in neighbouring countries, must reap the benefits of the peace and democracy efforts.
Since our high-level meeting on the Central African Republic held last September, significant progress has been made in the implementation of the Political Agreement supported by the United Nations, in close cooperation with its guarantors. We have seen progress in terms of legislative reforms, the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, and the extension of State authority across the country. It is important to continue and to consolidate these efforts with all the protagonists.
Despite the pandemic, the mechanisms for implementing the Agreement have allowed for constructive dialogue between the Government, the armed groups, the political parties and representatives of civil society. I wish to congratulate all those who have worked towards this goal and I call upon others to join this march of history.
The security situation has also improved in some areas of the country, thanks to the ongoing political commitment of MINUSCA [United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic], complemented by a robust and dynamic posture in support of the efforts of the authorities of the Central African Republic.
I remain concerned, however, about the significant number of human rights violations and breaches of the Agreement. The commitments made by all signatories must be respected. In particular, I wish to strongly condemn all attacks targeting civilians, humanitarian workers and peacekeepers. These attacks, which may constitute war crimes, must stop immediately, and I call upon the authorities to redouble their efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice, protect civilians and strengthen measures to address violence against women.
Let there be no mistake: lasting peace will not be possible without compliance with the Agreement and without real progress on the development front. The humanitarian and sustainable development needs of the country remain an urgent priority. These needs have increased as a result of the pandemic and have not allowed for progress to be made with regard to the 2030 Agenda, as well as the 2063 Agenda.
The peace dividend must benefit all the people of the Central African Republic, in particular the most vulnerable and the historically marginalized. In that connection, our partnership with the international financial institutions is crucial, and I welcome the commitment of the World Bank in the Central African Republic.
The progress made on the development front will help to reduce humanitarian needs. Unfortunately, and as in previous years, the humanitarian community has received less than half of the funds required to meet the needs of the 2.6 million people of the Central African Republic who are in a precarious situation. I appeal to donors to significantly strengthen their economic and humanitarian cooperation with the Central African Republic.
The support of the partners of the Central African Republic remains indispensable for the holding of fair, transparent and inclusive elections within the constitutional time limits, as well as for the full and comprehensive implementation of the Political Agreement. In that connection, I welcome the partnership with the African Union, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the countries of the region and other important partners, such as the World Bank, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The United Nations will continue to support the people of the Central African Republic through the country team and MINUSCA. I wish to conclude by paying tribute to the peacekeepers, who are continuing to fulfil their mission under difficult conditions, and also to my Special Representative, Mankeur Ndiaye, whom I commend for his unwavering commitment. I wish you every success in your meeting. I thank you.