Security Council demands end to violence in Central African Republic

The United Nations Security Council today demanded an end to violence by armed groups terrorizing the northern Central African Republic (CAR) and called for all parties in the country to abide by the results of a recent national dialogue.
The UN News Centre says the 15-member body also endorsed a plan by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to establish a new, integrated UN unit in the landlocked nation to replace the UN peacebuilding office there known as BONUCA, according to a statement read out by Ambassador Claude Heller of Mexico, which holds the rotating Council presidency for the month.
Through the statement, the Council called on all armed groups to immediately end recruitment and use of child soldiers, and stressed the urgency of carrying out a process of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of other fighters.
Ban`s recommended tasks for the new UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office (BINUCA) include assistance for elections, government reforms and demobilization efforts, along with the facilitation of continued national dialogue.
The Council called a recent multi-stakeholder dialogue, held in the capital Bangui from 8 to 20 December 2008, “an effective framework to foster national reconciliation and stability.”
Last month, François Lonsény Fall, the Secretary-General`s Special Representative, told the Council that the talks were a result of two years of “tremendous effort” by various actors, both national – including representatives of the Government, opposition and civil society – and international.
At the end of the 12-day dialogue, he said, several agreements had been reached, 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.
In today`s statement, the Council called on the Government and all political stakeholders to ensure timely, effective and transparent preparations for those elections.
Despite the agreements, however, fighting this year in north-west of the CAR between Government troops and an emerging rebel force, known as the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP), have led some 6400 people to escape into the bush, while over 9000 others have fled across the border to Chad.
In the past ten years, over 300 000 people have been displaced by violence in the country.
While efforts are under way to help the internally displaced persons (IDPs), Government forces have limited humanitarian workers from gaining access to those in need several times in recent months, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).