United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged the people of Central African Republic (CAR) to seize the opportunity of talks taking place in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, to advance reconciliation and "open a new page in their history."
"We must stop the violence and permanently silence the guns. In the absence of lasting political solution to the problems of this region, there will be no prospect of peace and unity in the CAR," Mr. Ban said in a message delivered to the Brazzaville forum by his Special Representative for CAR, Babacar Gaye.
"The challenges ahead are enormous," he said, noting that the next steps to reconciliation include political coordination and unity in order to establish a front against those who seek to undermine the peace process.
Mr. Ban called on transitional institutions to effectively fulfill their mandates, including by promoting free, transparent and credible elections. All parties must commit firmly to the best interests of the Central African people.
Attending the three-day forum are heads of State, including CAR's interim president Catherine Samba-Panza, representatives of civil society organizations, political parties and armed groups, as well as refugees.
"National ownership is imperative. Without it, the efforts of the international community will be in vain," Mr. Ban said.
The UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in CAR (MINUSCA) will continue to work with African and international actors in search of a lasting solution to the conflict.
Mr. Ban said that starting on 15 September, MINUSCA will take over the Africa-led MISCA force and will operate under a broader mandate, continuing to seek and facilitate further international commitment and support.
Beyond political support, strengthening economic, financial and humanitarian assistance is critical because reconciliation and dialogue cannot thrive in an environment marked by extreme poverty, the Secretary-General noted.
"Your country is at a crossroads," Mr. Ban said, urging Central Africans to remain committed to compromise and mutual tolerance.