UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: IRIN News Briefs, 22 October
No funds for demobilisation effort Election controversy source of potential instability Regional instability compounding uncertainty Opposition refuses to join new government
No funds for demobilisation effort
No clear positive response has been received yet from donors in support of a UN programme for the demobilisation and reintegration of members of the CAR armed forces, an official from the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) told IRIN on Thursday. "A deficit of US $3.6 million has put the project in a critical situation," the official said. The restructuring of the armed forces is considered crucial for long-term stability in the country. In his latest report on the CAR, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said funding for the demobilisation programme would facilitate the retirement of a large number of soldiers, which would create vacancies that would, in turn, allow the induction of new recruits to achieve a balanced multi-ethnic composition of the armed forces.
Election controversy source of potential instability
The controversy surrounding the reelection of President Ange-Felix Patasse in September "does not augur well for political stability and economic growth in the medium term", the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) said in its latest quarterly report on the CAR. Despite Patasse's public appeals for calm, he may be reluctant to offer opposition leaders prominent positions with real influence, which could lead his more trenchant opponents to "take their grievances onto the streets". The withdrawal of the UN Mission in the CAR (MINURCA) would open up a "potentially dangerous political vacuum" in Bangui, while the mission's extension could prevent the CAR from "sliding towards chaos", the report said. It was also essential that the urban economy begin to recover and to generate new employment in the relatively near future "if the CAR is to creep back from the brink of a slide into renewed violence", it added.
Regional instability compounding uncertainty
A further source of uncertainty is the unstable military and political situation in neighbouring countries, the EIU report continued. If improved security conditions in the Republic of Congo allowed the reopening of the Brazzaville-Pointe Noire rail service, this would have a "significant positive impact" on the CAR, which has traditionally exported much of its timber through Brazzaville. Similarly, there would be positive "knock-on benefits" for the CAR if the current truce in the DRC were to hold, it said. Meanwhile, there have been "persistent reports" that a Ukrainian entrepreneur has been operating supply flights to Angolan rebels from Bangui and suggestions that smuggled Angolan diamonds "may be being traded in the city", in contravention of UN-imposed sanctions banning trade in stones originating from Angolan rebels, the EIU report added.
Opposition refuses to join new government
The opposition Union des forces acquises a la paix (UFAP) has said it will not take part in the new government of President Ange-Felix Patasse, Gabonese radio reported. The party said experience had shown that under the previous presidential term, "all the actions that were undertaken have never been completed". The party's leaders said they preferred to "keep their distance" in order to "better play their role". The government replied by saying if the opposition had chosen not to take part, "we respect its rights to freedom and sovereignty as a UFAP political party".
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Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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