The current situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) continues to be a source of concern, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a new report, warning that the presence of an armed rebellion in the northern part of the country, together with the insecurity and depravations suffered by the local populations, are all destabilizing factors that raise tensions and hamper efforts to restore peace.
In his latest report to the Security Council on the UN Peace-building Support Office in the CAR (BONUCA), Mr. Annan highlights a number of threats to the stability of the country and the subregion, and notes the overall security and military situation in the north has "deteriorated" along with the country's political relations with neighbouring Chad.
According to the report, the gradual easing of tensions that had recently emerged was compromised following an attack on the capital, Bangui, by members of the Bozize opposition group last October. The incident prompted subsequent claims by authorities in the CAR that Chadian nationals who supported that faction were involved in the uprising.
The Secretary-General also says that the uncertain prospects of an economic arrangement with the Bretton Woods institutions serve to undermine the already tenuous social situation - aggravated in recent weeks by labour stoppages - in the CAR even further. "It is in fact because the State has received no budgetary assistance for nearly two years and because it lacks the resources to meet its payroll that the country's workers had gone on strike after having courageously and responsibly observing a social truce for 18 months," he observes.
In order to prevent the current social tensions from "spinning out of control," Mr. Annan urgently calls on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank to respond positively to the requests of the Central African authorities, and encourages the institutions to reconsider their suspension of activities in Bangui.
At UN Headquarters in New York, the Secretary-General's Representative for the CAR, Gen. Lamine Cissé, who also heads BONUCA, told a press briefing that a top priority for the Office at the beginning of 2003 was to prevent the resumption of generalized conflict.
"There is also a need to stabilize bilateral relations between the Central African Republic and its neighbours, in particular Chad," he said. Violent incidents had recently occurred along the two countries' border, creating new zones of tension for a nation already bogged down by internal problems. In response, BONUCA was working closely with regional institutions such as the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) and the African Union.
General Cissé is scheduled to brief the Security Council tomorrow on the Secretary-General's report.