UNSECCO:Statement on the Central African Republic
I would like to thank the Special Representative of the Secretary General, Cheikh Tidiane Sy, for briefing us today on developments in the Central African Republic. I am also grateful to Mr Lyons of UNDP and Mr Karlsson of the World Bank. These organisations are closely involved in the CAR and their insights and experience are a most useful guide to the Council. We are also grateful to the Group of Friends of the CAR for their work. In addition, we welcome his excellency, Mr Me Zode, Minister for the Promotion of Civic Culture and Parliamentary Relations of the Central African Republic, and we thank him for joining us today.
We welcome the progress which the Government of CAR has made, as noted in the report of the Secretary General, particularly toward disarmament and the restructuring of the defence and security forces.
At the same time, however, the SG's report presents an unsatisfactory picture of the economic and political situation in the CAR. The consolidation of democratic institutions and the promotion of national reconciliation are prerequisites to political, economic and social development. The absence of any dialogue with the opposition parties is very regrettable. However, we note that the SG recognised that the Opposition have themselves often adopted a confrontational approach. We concur with the assessment of the SG that it is up to the Central African people themselves to summon the political will necessary and work towards national reconciliation. I would like at this point to acknowledge the straight talking this morning by the Foreign Minister of Mauritius when, in a wider comment, he noted conflicts in some African countries in the absence of good governance, non-respect for democratic institutions, persistent violations of human rights and lack of transparency.
The action taken by the Central African Government in December to disperse an opposition rally, which was followed by the arrest and trial of parliamentarians, has only served to heighten tension. We would urge all sides, Government and opposition, to enter into a serious dialogue in order to preserve the democratic institutions so recently established. We call on the Government of the CAR to follow through on a number of confidence-building measures, such as access to the State-run media, as was promised by Prime Minister Anicet Georges Dologuele, in order to help improve the relationship between both sides.
On the human rights front, the report highlights a number of serious violations, although the decrease in the level of summary and extrajudicial executions is to be welcomed. In particular, we deplore the violations which have been taking place in the guise of so-called "neighbourhood justice", referred to earlier by Special Representative Sy. We look forward to hearing definitive confirmation of an end to these quite unacceptable practices. The Government must take the necessary and appropriate action. We welcome the work which BONUCA has done in training law enforcement officers. This is a significant contribution towards increasing confidence in State justice and law and order. We note Special Representative Sy's comment that international donor support is needed also in this area.
The serious economic situation in the country is not helped by the conflict in the DRC, and we share the SG's assessment that without the restoration of peace in the DRC, there can be no lasting solution to the instability in the region.
We welcome the positive responses which the Secretary General has received from the President of the World Bank and the IMF in response to his letters of November last year. The approval of the HIPC debt relief package should enable the resumption of payment of salaries and a gradual settlement of arrears in wages, and help to defuse what has been described as the serious and "explosive" social situation in the country. Likewise, structural reforms and poverty reduction programmes of the Government will also benefit from the HIPC package. Vice-President Karlsson's positive report this morning regarding Prime Minister Dologuele's commitment, and that of his Government, to defend effectively their national economic interests, both internally and externally, is heartening.
The international community has already invested heavily in peace in the CAR and must be encouraged to continue to do so. However, the necessary return on this investment can only come through the restoration of political stability which in turn must come from the people and institutions of the CAR. We strongly support the Secretary General's call on the International Financial Institutions to contribute constructively, in a collaborative effort with the Government of the CAR, in helping to restore social and political stability to the country.
Finally, may I express Ireland's support for the proposed Presidential Statement.