3 July 2006

Central African Republic: Stability Threatened By Rebels, Regional Tensions - UN

The Central African Republic's stability is facing threats from new rebel movements in the northern part of the country, the situation in neighbouring Chad and tension between it and Sudan, Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in a new report released today.

"The area where the borders of the three countries intersect could quickly become one fraught with turmoil likely to attract more armed groups, mercenaries and rebels willing to participate in any action likely to destabilize the countries of the subregion," Mr. Annan warns in the report to the Security Council on the country, where the UN has deployed a Peacebuilding Support Office (BONUCA).

The humanitarian situation has deteriorated sharply over the past few months particularly in the north-western part of the country, where civilians have fled their villages, some crossing into Chad, as a result of the insecurity created by the armed rebel movements, attacks by robbers and reprisals by the armed forces, according to the report. Although it is difficult to access those in need of aid, UN agencies have been providing food and other supplies.

Compounding the humanitarian problems, human rights violations are on the rise. The report cites "many abuses and violations of the right to life," including "many reports of arbitrary or summary execution; torture; cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; arbitrary arrest and detention; violation of time limits on police custody; and restriction of the freedom of movement."

Armed rebellion, based in the north, now threatens the Government. Four armed groups aim to overthrow the regime of President François Bozizé. While there is little information on who is backing and funding the groups, the report notes that a tripartite initiative among the Central African Republic, Cameroon and Chad, in place since December 2005, has authorized the three countries' regular armies to cross their common borders in pursuing armed groups or roadblockers that are threatening their stability. That "is making it difficult for rebel groups to establish a long-term presence in the territory of any of the three countries or to use them as a rear base," the Secretary-General notes.

Mr. Annan stresses that the Central African authorities must take primary responsibility for the stability of the country, but adds that an approach involving countries in the area is crucial. "I will therefore have to continue my contacts, through my Special Representative, with leaders of the subregion in order to help them in their efforts to achieve lasting stability in their region with the support of the international community," the Secretary-General states.

He calls for the international community to intensify its efforts to make borders more secure, especially those between Chad, the Central African Republic and the Sudan, in order to discourage any attempts by armed movements to settle temporarily or permanently in those countries, since such movements are a threat to the local populations and to refugees and displaced persons.

He also underscores the need for the Government to engage in a permanent dialogue with all national social and political stakeholders, and urges President Bozizé to work towards promoting justice and respect for the rule of law. "I urge him to shed light on the serious human rights violations committed in recent months in his country and to put an end to impunity by bringing those responsible for the violations to justice."

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