Problems surround Central African Republic can be overcome

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The United Nations’ top political official yesterday voiced his conviction that the various challenges facing the peace process in the Central African Republic (CAR) can be overcome with the continued help of the world body and the country’s international partners.
 Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pasco told the Security Council that he was able to see the impact of years of instability and insecurity in the country during his recent visit to the CAR, the UN News Service reports.
“But I also heard words that reflected the profound faith that the Government and people of the country had in the United Nations, which they saw as a reliable partner for the realization of their aspirations for a better future,” he adds.
“The problems are huge, but I am convinced the UN can help to move them to a solution.”
A national dialogue held in the capital Bangui last December, bringing together the Government, non-armed opposition, rebel groups and civil society, resulted in a number of agreements to move the country`s peace process forward, including the establishment of a broad-based government, a commitment to hold municipal, legislative and presidential elections in 2009 and 2010, and the setting up of an independent electoral commission.
Pascoe said the post-dialogue period has been characterized by “two, sometimes seemingly contradictory, trends.” There have been “significant” efforts to implement the recommendations of the dialogue, on the one hand, while there has also been a resurgence of rebellion in the country`s north, on the other.
“Underlying these two contradictory developments is a third element, namely, the increasing fragility of the peace process in the CAR and of the country itself,” he added.
In his recent report on the CAR, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon identified poverty reduction, the holding of legislative and presidential elections in 2010, and the implementation of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of ex-fighters as important challenges.
Pascoe, who presented the report to the Council, said the country`s National Assembly is currently meeting to discuss and adopt a new electoral code to guide the preparations for and conduct of the elections.
 He stressed that the organization of peaceful, transparent and credible elections is contingent on the adoption of an electoral code that is accepted by all stakeholders, as well as the establishment of the independent electoral commission.
“The Secretary-General has called on the CAR authorities to ensure that elections are held on schedule in order to prevent a constitutional power vacuum which could further complicate an already fragile political environment, including the possibility of renewed violence,” stated Pascoe.
“It is especially important for the Government to guarantee security and a level playing field for all participants if the electoral process is to proceed peacefully and with credibility,” he added.