- In the run-up to end of year elections in the Central African Republic, the acting Head of State, General François Bozizé, has condemned corruption in the judiciary. While General Bozizé emphasises on corruption, the opposition will focus on human rights, while the UN raises security concerns.
- Extortion on rural roads and threats to individual and collective liberty remain problematic, according to a new report from the UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (BONUCA). The UN mission sees General Bozizé's promise to fight corruption in the judiciary as "a positive sign," but comments that the problem is known in all sectors of society.
General Bozizé - who came to power in the Central African Republic in last year's military coup - has criticised the comportment of the magistrates as characterised by corruption, lying and malfeasance, which they substitute for such values as rigor and the strength of the case being judged. This is reported by BONUCA in its monthly report from the country.
The acting Head of State is entering the slowly starting election campaign by calling for a fight on corruption in the judiciary. Corruption is known to be widespread in the Central African Republic, a country where most state employees only are paid salaries at a very irregular basis.
Authorities in the Central African Republic are still carrying out reforms that will allow elections to take place within half a year. The military government of General Bozizé as agreed to a timetable for the return of constitutional rule in the impoverished country after strong pressure from African neighbour countries and the UN Security Council.
Central African authorities are now preparing for elections to be held in December 2004 or January 2005. Several reforms are however still necessary in order to allow the electoral operations to "take place in the best conditions and according to the expected timetable," as demanded by the international community.
Contrary to the desires of the African Union and current standards used for the transition from unconstitutional to democratic rule, General Bozizé has indicated his desire to stand candidate in the upcoming elections. He is now observed by BONUCA to have started his electoral campaign.
The Central African opposition is said to focus on human rights and economic development in the upcoming elections. During the Bozizé regime, the freedom of expression has been increasingly limited and attacks on the press are growing more frequent.
Also the UN observers in the country are critical towards the human rights record of General Bozizé. BONUCA says it had recommended to the government measures to "prevent extra-judiciary and summary executions and other violations of fundamental human rights."
The latest report by the UN mission invites Central African authorities to "lead a fight against impunity" and to "adopt a national human rights plan," in conformity with the international conventions ratified by the Central African Republic, as they prepare for the upcoming elections.
BONUCA however also states its strong concerns for the security situation during the election campaign and the poll. The UN mission had urged the government to introduce "measures to ensure security of person and property" in due time before the poll.
- Former government authorities and some current politicians are being subjected to attacks on their rights, such that some of them have been forced to go into hiding, the UN reports from Bangui. Improved security measures were necessary to guarantee the successful outcome of the important elections.
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