4 November 2003


NEW YORK, 3 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of a message (translated from French) from Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the twentieth ministerial meeting of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa, held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, on 30 and 31 October (and read by General Lamine Cissé, the Secretary-General’s Representative for the Central African Republic):

I have great pleasure in sending all of you my warmest greetings.  I am most grateful to the Government and people of Equatorial Guinea for hosting this meeting in their capital.

Since your ministerial meeting in Brazzaville last May, there have been encouraging developments in several countries of the region.

In Rwanda, the recent presidential and municipal elections took place in a peaceful atmosphere.

In Angola, the people are making every effort to consolidate the process of national reconciliation and are working for the country’s development.

In the Central African Republic, a national dialogue for reconciliation has been launched with the aim of putting an end to the repeated crises that have shaken the country for decades and of establishing favourable conditions for a return to constitutional legality by means of credible, democratic and transparent elections.


In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a Government of National Unity has been installed to manage the period of transition until general elections can be organized in the country.  The United Nations fully supports the Government’s efforts to consolidate peace and national reconciliation.  It is time to put an end to the clash of arms so that the Democratic Republic of the Congo can at last advance along the path of economic and social development, with full respect for human life and human rights.

In Burundi, the signature on 8 October of the Pretoria Protocol on power sharing between the Transitional Government and the Forces for the Defence of Democracy raises hopes that the country will regain stability.  I urge all the parties in Burundi, including the National Liberation Forces, to resolve as soon as possible all the questions that are still outstanding so that they can reach a comprehensive agreement.  That is the only way to put an end to the suffering endured by the Burundian people for too long.

Another encouraging development is the ratification of the Protocol on the Council for Peace and Security in Central Africa, which was immediately activated to settle peacefully the crisis in Sao Tome and Principe last July.  This is a fundamental step towards concerted action to bring about peace in Central Africa.

Establishing and maintaining peace is a demanding, difficult and long-term enterprise that requires sustained determination.  In spite of the considerable progress that has been made, the peace processes in Central Africa remain fragile.  I am particularly concerned by the uncontrolled proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the region.  By encouraging people to resort to violence, this exacerbates tension and can destroy efforts aimed at the settlement of conflicts.  I therefore urge all States in the subregion to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects, as they undertook to do in Brazzaville last May.

The United Nations will continue to support your efforts by increasing its cooperation with the organizations of the subregion and supporting their capacities in the areas of peace and security, in particular.  With that in mind, I shall very shortly be submitting to the members of the Security Council the report of the multidisciplinary mission that I sent to the subregion last June.

I send you my best wishes for a fruitful discussion.

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