I welcome the initiative of this extraordinary summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of the Central African States (ECCAS). I thank the Chairperson of ECCAS, President Ali Bongo Ondimba of the Gabonese Republic, for his invitation, as well as the Government and people of Gabon for hosting this meeting. I also wish to salute the efforts of the ECCAS Mediator in the Central African Republic crisis, President Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of the Congo. This summit is, once more, testament of Central African leaders’ unwavering commitment to restoring peace and security in the Central African Republic.
The Central African Republic is at a crossroads. The Bangui Forum for National Reconciliation held in May 2015 generated real hope for the future. However, subsequent violence has demonstrated the determination of some to derail the political process and dash the aspirations of the people of the Central African Republic. The unprecedented number of Central Africans who registered to vote expresses, in the most tangible way, their desire for a representative government as an essential step toward restoring rule of law, ending impunity and rebuilding the state. I wish to once again stress the critical importance of allowing refugees from the Central African Republic to register and cast their vote in the upcoming elections.
I take this opportunity to urge all stakeholders, inside and outside the Central Africa Republic, to thwart any attempt to disrupt the political transition and bring to justice those who use violence to serve their narrow interests. I also strongly ask all the parties to respect their commitments on DDRR made at the Bangui Forum, proceed with the immediate release of child soldiers and the cessation of hostilities and other violent acts. There is an urgent need to engage in the national reconciliation process in order to recover peace and stability in the Central African Republic.
The announcement of a revised electoral calendar by the Transitional Authorities under the leadership of the Head of State of the Transition, Ms. Catherine Samba-Panza, is an essential step forward.
The support of the Heads of State of ECCAS is critical to allow for a technical extension of the transition period in order to bring the transition to a successful conclusion through free, fair and credible elections.
The United Nations will spare no effort to assist the Transitional Authorities in creating an environment conducive for the holding of such elections. I have requested my Special Representative for the Central Africa and Head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa, Mr. Abdoulaye Bathily, and my Special Representative for the Central African Republic and Head of the United Nations Integrated Stabilization Mission in that country, Mr. Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, to work closely with all stakeholders in pursuit of these tasks.
I pay tribute to all those who lost their lives during the recent upsurge in violence, both Central Africans and from among the international presence, including United Nations peacekeepers and civilian staff. We must honour their memory by persevering in our collective determination to help the people of the Central African Republic turn the page on the crisis that has devastated lives and stymied hope for a better future. While the upcoming elections will not resolve the root causes of conflict, they will bring into office leaders accountable to those who elect them – and who can count on the continuing support of the United Nations as they embark on longer-term efforts to end impunity and rebuild the country. Completing the current transition is the precursor to lasting stabilization and recovery.
I thank you for your attention and wish you success in your deliberations