- As the Central African Republic is preparing for its November constitutional referendum and January elections, the UN Security Council has hailed the country's military leadership for the ongoing transition process. The UN peace-building mission in the Central African Republic is to be extended for more than one year.
The UN Security Council today called on the international community to help Central African Republic prepare for its November constitutional referendum and January elections, and it welcomed Secretary-General Kofi Annan's intention to renew the mandate of the United Nations peace-building office there.
The statement, read by current Security Council President Emyr Jones Parry of Britain, commended the Central African leadership at all levels for reaching a consensus "which attests to their determination to continue the transition process to the end."
- The Security Council encourages the Central Africans to continue their efforts to ensure the success of the constitutional referendum in November and the satisfactory organisation of free, transparent and democratic presidential and legislative elections in January 2005, Ambassador Jones Parry said.
General Francois Bozize, who took power in the Central African Republic in a military coup the ousted the democratically elected government, has pledged to return democratic institutions to the chronically instable country. Preparations for elections are going according to schedule.
General Bozize on many occasions however has been criticised for setbacks in the human rights situation in the Central African Republic. In particular the situation of the independent press has deteriorated since the military government took over.
Also the electoral process has been questioned. General Bozize, as a result of his military coup, in theory disqualified from standing candidate. He nevertheless has declared his intentions of continuing as Head of State. The country's legally elected President, Ange-Felix Patasse, is still exiled and faces charges of trying to undermine the current military government, something that probably will bar him from standing candidate at the upcoming poll.
While the democratisation process in the country is widely criticised, the UN Security Council nevertheless has opted to lend General Bozize its support, hailing the transition process. The UN is also taking on a stronger role in securing the democratisation process.
In August the UN Peace-Building Office in the Central African Republic (BONUCA) launched a nationwide "awareness campaign" to prepare for the presidential and legislative elections in January that are aimed at ending years of instability and violence in the country.
Today's statement by the UN Security Council also paid tribute to the UN system in the Central African Republic, particularly the Secretary-General's Representative, General Lamine Cissé, for his work as the head of BONUCA. "The Security Council is pleased that the Secretary-General intends to renew the BONUCA mandate until 31 December 2005," the statement added.
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