Press Releases

                                                                                                                            30 June 2004

    Secretary-General Promises Continued UN Support for Central Africa Peace, Development Efforts in Message to Security Meeting in Malabo

    (Delayed for translation of text, originally delivered in French.)

    NEW YORK, 24 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s message to the twenty-first ministerial meeting of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa, delivered by General Lamine Cissé, Representative of the Secretary-General in the Central African Republic, in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, 24 June:

    I should first like to thank the Government and the people of Equatorial Guinea, who, under the leadership of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, have again hosted a ministerial meeting of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa in their capital.

    I should also like to pay tribute to the States members of the Committee for their tireless efforts to promote peace, security and development in the subregion. The Committee’s energy and determination in seeking concerted solutions to the host of crises and conflicts that plague your countries and peoples is a great source of hope.

    In Angola, the parties to one of the most devastating armed conflicts that Africa has ever seen are now endeavouring to consolidate a peace process.  I am pleased with the progress they have made in demobilizing and socially reintegrating former combatants.  It is important, however, for the Angolan Government and the international community to turn their attention, in particular, to the dire predicament of the hundreds of thousands of refugees and displaced persons.

    In the Central African Republic, the dynamic response to the strong recommendations of the national dialogue held in October 2003 has paved the way for the return to constitutional order in January 2005. To that end, the implementation of the electoral timetable announced by the Government is a crucial step which, I trust, will help bring to an end the successive crises that have shaken the country for decades.

    Successful elections in Rwanda should allow for the creation of favourable conditions for strengthening national unity and democracy.

    In addition, I welcome the decision taken by the heads of State and Government of the Great Lakes region, meeting in the United Republic of Tanzania earlier this month, to appeal, at their level and at the level of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council, to the Forces nationales de libération (FNL) to join the peace process in Burundi. They have also urged the Government of Burundi to take all necessary steps, without delay, for the holding of elections by 31 October 2004, as provided for in the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement. In order to help Burundians to consolidate the peace process, the Security Council has authorized the transformation of the African Mission in Burundi (AMIB) into a United Nations peacekeeping mission (ONUB) as from 1 June 2004.

    Despite the progress that has been made, the political, security and socio-economic situation in Central Africa remains a matter of great concern, in view of the persistence of deadly conflicts and the disastrous consequences of previous crises. What often follows from these is that some of the participants in the process of restoring peace and promoting reconciliation in the States of the subregion fail to meet their commitments.

    I am especially concerned at the resurgence of armed violence in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I reiterate my strong condemnation of this type of escalation, which is a serious detriment to the peace process. I call on all parties represented in the transitional Government to remain fully engaged in the peace process and to refrain from any action that could endanger the unity of the Government. The United Nations and, in particular, the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), will continue working with the people and the transitional Government to protect and consolidate the progress that has been made in the inter-Congolese dialogue.

    I should also like to underscore the international community’s grave concerns at the recent attempts at a coup d’état and destabilization in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and even here in Equatorial Guinea, and at the mutiny that broke out in Chad last May, which government forces fortunately managed to gain control over very quickly. The impact of the crisis in Darfur on Chad is equally a source of concern. Lastly, efforts must be redoubled in several other countries in the subregion to strengthen stability and consolidate the still fragile peace.

    The establishment of the Council for Peace and Security in Central Africa (COPAX) last year has paved the way for more resolute action by the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) to ensure peace and security. The time has come for the leaders of the subregion to take the appropriate decisions in this respect in order to improve, at long last, the lives of the people living in this rich area of our continent.

    I assure you that the United Nations will keep providing you with all the support you need in shouldering your responsibilities for promoting peace, stability and socio-economic development in your subregion. I wish you the greatest success in your work.

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