Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the decision by the Central African Republic (CAR) to hold an inclusive political dialogue shortly, but cautioned that the country continues to face political, security and socio-economic challenges.
In his latest report to the Security Council on the country made public today, Mr. Ban wrote that the situation in the CAR is being compounded by a weak economy, complex social problems and impunity.
The “culture of impunity” that exists for the rebel militia known as the Popular Army for the Restoration of Democracy (APRD) and Government forces is “an area of immediate and continuing concern,” he said.
The Secretary-General welcomed the decision by the Government to convene long-awaited multi-party talks from 5-20 December. Expressing the United Nations’ support for the process “as the only viable and sustainable option to put a definitive end to the cycle of political and security instability,” he appealed to all groups within the CAR to work together to address their differences peacefully.
“The dialogue continues to be widely seen as a crucial first step towards national reconciliation and the stabilization of the country,” Mr. Ban wrote in the report, adding that it is also seen as a process to promote political inclusiveness ahead of the 2010 presidential and legislative elections.
Briefing the Security Council today, François Lonsény Fall, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, noted that the Government announced in October that it had released two prisoners from rebel groups in accordance with a peace deal reached earlier this year between the Government and rebel groups.
“The release of prisoners was a significant gesture demonstrating the commitment of the Central African Government to the implementation of the Libreville agreements,” he said.
“Now that a genuine window of opportunity is opening up for this country all efforts must now be focused on the effective holding of this major political forum so long awaited by the entire Central African Republic,” said Mr. Fall.
Mr. Ban announced in today’s report that he had allocated $10 million from the UN Peacebuilding Fund to address the country’s immediate needs in security sector reform, good governance and the rule of law, and revitalization of communities affected by conflict.
He also voiced concern over human rights abuses, noting that the phenomenon of mob justice has become more prevalent, including the execution of those accused of witchcraft, as well as summary and extrajudicial executions being committed in conflict areas.
The report also noted that the judicial systems prison inmates are also subjected to inhuman, cruel and degrading treatment by police investigators assigned to detention centres as prison wardens.
“I urge the Central African authorities to seize this opportunity to strengthen the rule of law and promote good governance by ensuring the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and addressing the culture of impunity, with a view to its eradication,” the Secretary-General wrote.
He also renewed his appeal for unhindered access to allow humanitarian assistance to reach the populations in need and to ensure adequate protection for humanitarian workers, saying it was critical to addressing the “massive” humanitarian challenges facing the CAR.
The Security Council authorized the establishment last year of the UN Mission in the CAR and Chad (MINURCAT) to try to stabilize the security situation and ease the humanitarian suffering in both countries, which are among the poorest in the world.