News24

Ban worried over CAR disappearances

2010-07-01 09:30

Libreville - UN chief Ban Ki-moon is concerned over the disappearance of two opposition leaders in the Central African Republic and the slow pace in disarming rebels, according to a report received by AFP on Wednesday.

"I remain very concerned about the disappearance of political leaders, particularly at this fragile juncture of the peace and national reconciliation process," the secretary general said in the June 10 report.

"I call upon the authorities of the Central African Republic to clarify those occurrences and to remain firmly committed to ensuring the safety of the politico-military leaders who have joined the peace process and who are currently residing in Bangui," the capital, he said, referring to former rebel leader Hassan Ousman and Charles Massi, who heads a rebel outfit.

Massi's wife has claimed he was tortured to death by state security forces.

The UN report also slammed the slow pace in demobilising and reintegrating rebels in the desperately poor nation, wracked by decades of fighting, despotic rule and coups.

"Despite the efforts of UNDP (the UN Development Programme), the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration process has progressed slowly," Ban said.

"Owing to delays in the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration process, it is likely that additional resources will need to be mobilised to ensure further implementation of the process," he said, without specifying any amount.

Security conditions

President Francois Bozize, who took power in a military coup in 2003 and was then elected head of state in 2005, plans to seek a new term but elections have been twice deferred by the national poll panel.

Bozize said recently that any polls must "take account of the development of security conditions" and the national electoral commission has proposed holding the delayed presidential and parliamentary polls on October 24.

"I continue to be concerned at the slow pace of the implementation of the disarmament and demobilisation phases of the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration process," Ban said.

"The completion of the process will contribute to the creation of an environment conducive to holding elections. Any further delay could lead to frustration on the part of ex-combatants waiting for disarmament and lead to a relapse into conflict.

"Efforts must also be made to bring on board armed groups that have not yet joined the peace process and to disarm the self-defence groups," he added.

The head of the biggest former rebel movement, former defence minister Jean-Jacques Demafouth, is challenging Bozize at the polls.

The other main candidates who have announced they will stand are former president Ange-Felix Patasse, who was ousted by Bozize in 2003, and former prime minister Martin Ziguele.