Civilian and military leaders from central African countries ended on Wednesday a three-day review of human rights and the role of security forces during periods of transition from conflict to democratic rule.
"In our region, characterised by recurring crises, some people see army troops as enemies," Edouard Kabukapua, a lawyer from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) who took part in the regional workshop, told IRIN.
"The less conflict between civilians and the military, the better for democracy and economic development," Sylvain Bayalama, an official from the government of the Republic of the Congo, said at the end of the workshop.
A Rwandan government participant, Aviateur Sebakiga, said workshops of this kind helped "to reduce tension, normalise and harmonise relations between civilians and soldiers".
Thirty officials from governments, civil society, the army and police from countries in the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) attended the workshop. ECCAS countries are Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, DRC, the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Rwanda and Sao Tome e Principe.
The workshop was organised by the UN Sub-Regional Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Central Africa, based in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Trainers included the director of the centre, Teferra Shiawl-Kidanekal, and the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative to CAR, Lamine Cisse, who is a retired Senegalese army general.
After the training, all participants, including three women, were awarded certificates in military-civilian relations.
Some participants claimed that relations between the military and civilians had already improved in the region. "Rwandan troops today participate in community works, like rehabilitating bridges," Sebakiga said.
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