Bangui signs convention to ban landmines

The Central African Republic (CAR) signed the international treaty to ban landmines during the most recent meeting of party states held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 16 to 20 September.

"We do not have land mines in CAR. We signed the Convention as a bulwark for the future," Gen Ernest Betebangui, the chief of staff of the CAR army, told IRIN last week. He added that during the different military crises in CAR, only antipersonnel grenades were used.

The signing of the Convention by the CAR government came as the result of a campaign carried out by the United Nations through its local bureau, BONUCA. "The UN through the human rights section of BONUCA did a great job in pushing the CAR government to join the Convention," Aissatou Laba Toure, head of the BONUCA information section, told IRIN on Friday.

CAR has suffered many internal military crises since the 1996-1997 mutinies, including the 28 May coup d'etat attempt and the November 2001 armed resistance by Gen Francois Bozize, the former CAR army chief of staff. More recently, military clashes have erupted repeatedly along the border with Chad.

Jackie Hansen of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) told IRIN on Monday that once the CAR deposited its instrument of ratification with the UN in New York and this was published in the UN Journal, the ratification would be official.

[For more on the ICBL]