UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: IRIN News Briefs, 25 October
Peacekeeping force extended Patasse begins second term CAR wants to use Sudanese port Impact of DRC conflict
Peacekeeping force extended
The UN Security Council on Friday extended the mandate of the UN Mission in the CAR (MINURCA) for three months until 15 February 2000. In a resolution adopted unanimously, the Council welcomed UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's proposal to despatch a small multidisciplinary mission to Bangui to examine conditions for a UN presence beyond MINURCA's new withdrawal date. It also welcomed Annan's proposal that MINURCA's size be reduced in three stages, and it called on the government to move forward with the restructuring of the armed forces. MINURCA was deployed to Bangui last year to assist in safeguarding peace and stability following a series of army mutinies in 1996-7.
Patasse begins second term
In a message marking the investiture of President Ange-Felix Patasse to another six-year term on Friday, Annan said the UN "will not abandon the CAR". He said the UN remained committed to assisting the country during the post-conflict peace-building phase, in close cooperation with the Bretton Woods institutions. The main challenges facing the country, he said, included the demobilisation and reintegration of soldiers and the restoration of foreign investor confidence. The international community had provided "a unique opportunity for the Central African Republic to achieve much-needed reform", Annan said, adding that the time had come for the UN to gradually hand over its responsibilities to the CAR authorities.
CAR wants to use Sudanese port
Sudanese President Omar al Bashir said on Saturday that relations between his country and the CAR had "greatly improved" during Patasse's first term in office and there were "now many links developing every day", Sudanese television reported. Bashir, one of four heads of state who attended Patasse's inauguration ceremony in Bangui, said funding was being sought for the road between the western Sudanese town of Nyala and Bangui, as well as for a rail line connecting the two countries, because the CAR wanted to use Port Sudan for its exports and imports, the television reported. Sudan Airways had initiated regular flights to Bangui for the first time, Bashir added. The presidents of Chad, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea also attended the inauguration ceremony for Patasse, who was elected last month with about 51.6 percent of the votes.
Impact of DRC conflict
Meanwhile, two Congolese government ministers met Patasse after the inauguration ceremony to discuss the restoration of peace in the DRC, news organisations said. Congolese television reported that Interior Minister Gaetan Kakudji and Minister of the Economy and Industry Saolona Bemba also visited some 1,800 Congolese refugees currently in Bangui. Saolona Bemba is the father of Jean-Pierre Bemba, leader of the rebel Mouvement de liberation congolais (MLC) which holds the area just across the river from Bangui. The UN Secretary-General's latest report on the CAR said rebel leader Bemba had recently visited Bangui twice to consult with the CAR authorities, while MINURCA had been obliged to begin regular boat patrols along the river because of frequent patrols by MLC rebels and CAR's presidential guard.
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Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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