The eleven countries of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), meeting Friday in summit in Gabon, called for the end “crimes” which threaten the Central African Republic, one month away from presidential and legislative elections.
The first round on December 27 will take place in a country still two-thirds occupied by armed rebel groups, even though the civil war, which has lasted for seven years, has diminished considerably in recent years.
“The crimes committed threaten the unity of the Central African Republic and its existence”, said Pacôme Moubelet Boubeya, Gabon’s head of diplomacy, in front of six of the 11 ECCAS heads of state for his annual summit at the invitation of Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba.
Then, speaking on behalf of ECCAS to “Central African leaders” – politicians but also leaders of armed groups that he invited to transform their militias into parties – he urged them “to seize the historic opportunity of the elections to lay the foundations for reconciliation and reconstruction” of this country among the poorest in the world.
The Central African Republic has been ravaged by war since a predominantly Muslim rebel coalition, the Séléka, overthrew President François Bozizé in 2013. Deadly violence then pitted Séléka and anti-balaka militias, the former predominantly Christian and animist.
The fighting between armed groups, whether or not from these two movements, has decreased in intensity since 2015, but the militias continue to perpetrate crimes against civilians despite a peace agreement signed in 2019 and the presence of peacekeepers from the United Nations. UN.
Central African President Faustin Archange Touadéra, a candidate for a second term, faces 21 declared rivals, including Mr. Bozizé, but whose candidacies have yet to be validated. Mr. Touadéra was present in Libreville alongside his Gabonese, Chadian, Congolese, Burundian and Angolan peers, the other five countries being represented by delegations.
ECCAS, founded in 1983, comprises 11 member states: Gabon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo, Angola, Rwanda, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, Chad, Cameroon and Burundi. Its main aim is to lead to the creation of a common market, but it is still far from it.
Besides the Central African Republic, one of the pressing topics on the agenda was the necessary increase in States’ contributions to ECCAS.
“Whether it concerns our conclusions on the Central African Republic” or “the financial means which the Commission (of ECCAS) needs”, “we have, as always, succeeded in transcending our particularities, in order to realize our ambition of regional integration”, Ali Bongo Ondimba told the podium.
The Congolese head of state, Denis Sassou-Nguesso, took over the rotating presidency of ECCAS on Friday.