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"Big question mark" for post-election period

Renewed civil unrest in a potential volatile period after the upcoming CAR presidential elections cannot be ruled out, UN Special Representative Oluyemi Adeniji said this week.

"It is a concern," Adeniji told IRIN on Tuesday. "It's the reaction of those who don't win [the elections] that really counts. If those who lose decide to foment trouble, it can be quite serious," he said.

Ten people - incumbent President Ange-Felix Patasse, six opposition leaders and three independent candidates - are running in the 12 September election, the first since a series of destructive army mutinies in 1996-97 plunged the country into a crisis from which it is still struggling to recover. A second round of voting, if one is required, is scheduled for 3 October.

The mandate of MINURCA, the UN peace-keeping mission sent to the CAR in April 1998 to help safeguard a fragile peace, expires on 15 November.

While the presence of MINURCA and its 1,227 troops would help contain any post-election disagreements or tensions that may arise, there was a "big question mark" as to whether there would be sufficient time for the problems to be resolved before MINURCA's scheduled 15 November departure date, Adeniji said.

Another source of concern was the lack of progress in the restructuring of the CAR armed forces, plagued by ethnic imbalances and poor training and living conditions. "Without the reorganisation of the army, the kind of mutiny that created the crisis can reoccur, particularly where there is no guarantee of the payment of salaries," he said. The maintenance of stability in the short-term would enable economic conditions to improve, which was a crucial condition for durable peace to prevail in the country, Adeniji added.

While members of the UN Security Council were now focusing on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), it was important to avoid "sacrificing one security for another," particularly in the sub-region.

"We have to look at the totality of the picture," Adeniji said, adding that the recent influx of Congolese nationals into the CAR, including thousands of DRC government soldiers, was an example of the trans-national impact of the region's crises.

Adeniji said the presence of DRC soldiers had so far prevented MINURCA from deploying troops and international observers to Mobaye, which was one of 10 locations throughout the country designated as electoral monitoring sites. The Congolese presence and the "increasing exasperation" of the local population in Mobaye could lead to potential open conflict in that area, Adeniji added.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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