UN experts help in preparation of reconciliation conference

Fifteen experts from the UN Peace-building Office in the Central African Republic (BONUCA) and other UN agencies have been taking part in preparations for the national conference scheduled to start on Monday.

BONUCA announced on Friday that that the contribution of UN experts as well as logistic and financial support, yet to be determined, were a result of consultations between the dialogue coordination team and the UN system, headed by the UN Secretary-General's representative to the country, Lamine Cisse.

President Francois Bozize officially launched the national dialogue on Tuesday, saying that its "ultimate goal is to ensure the return to a constitutional democracy within a realistic

The dialogue was first initiated in November 2002 by former President Ange-Felix Patasse who Bozize ousted on 15 March. The National Transitional Council, a law advisory body set up by Bozize, excluded Patasse from the talks to be attended by 350 delegates.

The statement from BONUCA said the dialogue was "the first stage for a consensual transition". It added that BONUCA organised and supported early this week a workshop of 13 political parties, which "wished to harmonise their views" before the talks.

BONUCA also sent in February and March a delegate from Patasse’s Mouvement de liberation du peuple centrafricain and another from former President David Dacko’s Mouvement pour la democratie et le developpement to South Africa to understudy the country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The CAR talks, whose duration is yet to be fixed, are headed by the Rev Isaac Zokoe, assisted by the Rev Josue Binoua, former prime minister Enock Derant Lakoe and former mines minister Charles Massi. So far, former President Andre Kolingba, currently in exile in Uganda, has not announced his participation in the talks, although he is one of the delegates.