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Progress in Central African Republic could falter without support, Annan warns

Progress in Central African Republic could falter without support, Annan warns

Recent progress in stabilizing the situation in the Central African Republic could falter without international support, Secretary-General Kofi Annan warns in a report to the Security Council released at United Nations Headquarters in New York today.

Among the positive signs documented in the report are the indefinite lifting of the curfew which had been imposed following last year's failed coup, the return of a large number of refugees, the continuation of social dialogue between the Government and the trade unions, and the start of political dialogue between the Government and the opposition. "These efforts should be encouraged, since they could be jeopardized if they are not supported," Mr. Annan cautions.

At the same time, the Secretary-General points out that the country's difficult economic and financial situation is liable to shatter the "social truce" set to expire on 22 July. At that point, he warns, "the workers are not excluding the possibility of resuming social protests, which would threaten peace and stability." He stresses that the Government must be able to ensure the regular payment of salaries, as agreed under the terms of the joint communiqué signed with the trade unions.

"To this end, the Central African Republic should have access to external financial assistance, which has been lacking since January 2001," the Secretary-General writes. "It is for that reason that I once again invite the authorities of IMF and the World Bank to take into account the special circumstances of this country and rapidly conclude a cooperation programme." He warns that the accumulation of salary, pension and scholarship arrears, latent social tension, and the antagonism in the relations between the majority and the opposition "create conditions which could lead to all kinds of disintegration."

The report also raises concern over the situation of military returnees. "In order to maintain peace and stability in the country, an appropriate solution must be found to the fate of the soldiers who will not be reintegrated into the army," the Secretary-General says, referring to those troops who are viewed by the Government as deserters. He appeals to donors to provide financial assistance to rehabilitation programmes for former military personnel. Currently, the UN Development Programme and the UN Peace-Building Support Office in the Central African Republic (BONUCA) are exploring projects for the returnees "so that they are not tempted, as a result of inactivity, to try to subvert the institutional order once again."