Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today praised Central Africa for its efforts towards integration and peace, but warned that the region still faces several hurdles.
In a message to the 13th conference of heads of State and of government of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) underway in Brazzaville, the Republic of Congo, Mr. Ban said that “the progress which has been achieved so far in the process of integration of Central Africa, as well as in the promotion of peace is encouraging.”
He also noted in his message delivered by his Special Representative for the Central African Republic, François Lonsény Fall that the “collective efforts” of ECCAS countries will promote a common market comprising over 120 million consumers, while the consolidation of peace would bolster socio-economic development for the sub-region as well as the entire African continent.
But at the same time, he acknowledged that Central Africa still faces obstacles in increasing prosperity and the well-being of the population, including the persistence of tension in zones such as eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), eastern Chad and north-eastern Central African Republic (CAR).
The proliferation of light weapons and small arms, the illegal exploitation of natural resources and the rise of human trafficking and cross-border insecurity are also impeding Central African integration, he said.
Mr. Ban welcomed the ongoing steps towards peace in Chad and CAR, adding that he hopes that “the effective implementation of the recommendations and decisions from these processes will reinforce national reconciliation, peacebuilding and reconstruction within these two countries of the sub-region of Central Africa.”