CEMAC to plead Bozize's case for recognition

Republic of Congo President Denis Sassou-Nguesso has said that the regional Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States, known by its French acronym CEMAC, would plead the case for recognition for the new government in the Central African Republic (CAR).

Speaking on Saturday at Maya Maya airport in the RoC capital, Brazzaville, Sassou-Nguesso said CEMAC, of which he is the current chairman, would support CAR "within the framework of the sub-region", and would appeal on the country's behalf to the African Union (AU) and the international community.

Sassou-Nguesso was addressing a joint news conference with CAR leader Francois Bozize who had paid a two-day visit to Congo. The government-controlled Radio Centrafrique broadcast the news conference on Monday.

Sassou-Nguesso said CEMAC had demonstrated its support for the CAR by maintaining its peacekeeping force in the country after the 15 March coup in which President Ange-Felix Patasse was ousted. CEMAC has about 350 peacekeepers in the CAR capital, Bangui, from Chad, Gabon and the RoC. Their mission following the coup is yet to be defined.

Many states and international organisations, including the AU, condemned Bozize's coup. However, on 23 March, CEMAC, which groups six states - CAR, Chad, Cameroon, Gabon, RoC and Equatorial Guinea - welcomed Bozize's plans to restore peace and security.

"The AU has its own principles; here we act within the regional framework. CEMAC has realities which are not necessarily analysed in the same way by the AU," Sassou-Nguesso said. He added that he would soon convene a CEMAC summit in Libreville, the capital of Gabon, "to once again analyse the CAR situation".

Sassou-Nguesso's announcement was the first declaration of recognition that Bozize's administration has received. It came a few days after Prime Minister Abel Goumba's two-week tour to Belgium and France, during which he sought international recognition for CAR.