- Three months after the coup d'état of 15 March 2003, the overall situation in the Central African Republic was being "brought under control with considerable difficulty," UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a new report out yesterday. The UN was only to "adjust" its operations, not "fundamentally change" them.
According to the UN report, the security situation in the Central African Republic, where chronic instability has been aggravated, "remains fragile". While the situation had improved somewhat in the capital, Bangui, there was still insecurity along the highways and even in the towns.
- The restoration of security still remains the top priority for the new authorities, Mr Annan writes. "As I noted earlier, the restoration of security remains the prerequisite for a smooth transition and the holding of future elections in the best possible conditions."
Three months after the coup d'état in the Central African Republic by General Francois Francois Bozizé, the prevailing lack of security, struggling economy, and worsening human rights situation have generated new challenges for the UN Peace-building Support Office (BONUCA), the UN Secretary-General emphasises in his lates report to the UN Security Council.
- Although there will be no fundamental change in the mandate of the [UN] Office [in Bangui], its activities will be adjusted in light of the requirements of the new situation [in the country], Mr Annan writes. The UN, he continues, could provide support for the ongoing transition process until constitutional order is restored by temporarily adjusting the programmes and agencies presently operating in the Central African Republic.
Regarding efforts to improve security, BONUCA was to "contribute to the programme for restructuring the Central African defence and security forces ... monitor developments in the country's security situation, as well as the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programme." The UN thus will cooperate directly with the putschist regime of Major Bozizé in disarming his opponents.
The coup, in which General Bozizé overthrew the democratically elected regime of President Ange Felix Patassé had interrupted the already well-advanced preparations for the national dialogue, on which so much hope had been placed. The new authorities however envisage a return to constitutional legality in January 2005.
- If that commitment is honoured, the transition period would last less than 22 months, the UN notes. The national dialogue would be organised during this year, the constitutional referendum would be conducted in the first half of 2004, while general elections would be organised in the second half.
With that calendar in place, Mr Annan stressed that the considerable needs of Central African State caused by the extensive destruction of public property in the wake of the coup should also be taken into account.
Mr Annan also praised the Bozizé regime for making a smooth process of transition. For the time being, institutional arrangements for the transition were in place, he noted. The included a 28-member government representing all political opinions (including the Mouvement de Libération du Peuple Centrafricain (MLPC), the party of President Patassé) and even involving the trade unions; and a National Transition Council, which is a consultative body whose membership includes political actors and civil society organisations.
Finally, the UN Secretary-General appealed to all partners to provide effective support ahead of the ballot by assisting, with the drafting of a new constitution, and new electoral code, and the return of all refugees and displaced persons prior to the census in order to ensure that fair elections can be held in a climate of peace.
He added that the UN would continue to encourage the authorities "to ensure respect for the human rights of all Central Africans, irrespective of ethnic background or political affiliation."
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