CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Annan concerned about situationNairobi, 8 January 2003 (IRIN) - UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has warned that the armed rebellion in the north of the Central African Republic (CAR) and the deprivations local populations are suffering are "all destabilising factors" that raise tensions and hamper efforts to restore peace in the country, according to UN News.
It quoted him on Tuesday as saying in his new report to the Security Council on the UN Peace-building Support Office in the CAR (BONUCA), that the overall security and military situation in the north had "deteriorated" along with the country's political relations with neighbouring Chad.
He said supporters of former army chief of staff, Gen Francois Bozize, had compromised the gradual easing of the tensions that emerged following their attack on the capital, Bangui, on 25 October 2002. "The incident prompted subsequent claims by authorities in the CAR that Chadian nationals who supported that faction were involved in the uprising," UN News reported.
It quoted Annan as saying that the uncertain prospects for an economic arrangement with the Bretton Woods institutions served to undermine the already tenuous social situation - aggravated in recent weeks by labour stoppages - in the CAR even further.
"It is in fact because the state has received no budgetary assistance for nearly two years and because it lacks the resources to meet its payroll that the country's workers had gone on strike after having courageously and responsibly observing a social truce for 18 months," UN News reported Annan as saying.
He called on the IMF and the World Bank to respond positively to the government's request for help, and reconsider the suspension of their operations in Bangui.
At UN headquarters in New York, Annan's representative to the CAR, Gen Lamine Cisse, who also heads BONUCA, said at a press briefing that a top priority for his office at the beginning of 2003 was to prevent the resumption of generalised conflict, UN News reported. "There is also a need to stabilise bilateral relations between the Central African Republic and its neighbours, in particular Chad," he said.
Violent incidents had recently occurred along the two countries' border, creating new zones of tension for a nation already bogged down by internal problems, UN News reported. In response, it said, BONUCA was working closely with the Central African Economic and Monetary Community and the African Union.