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French-Drafted CAR Statement Silent on Bozize Arrests, No Call to Disband Like M23

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, January 4, updated with video -- When the Central African Republic press statement of the UN Security Council was read out by Council president Masood Khan of Pakistan Friday at 6 pm, there were three journalists present.

  While UN Television hustled and set up their camera, there was no live UN webcast of the statement. (Inner City Press has uploaded video, here.) This is how far CAR has fallen, compared to Syria and Libya before it.

  After Khan finished the statement and turned to leave, Inner City Press asked him two questions, which he graciously took. First, Inner City Press asked how many countries the UN has been informed have sent troops into CAR, beyond Gabon?

Khan said this was discussed, but he did not have a list.

Second, Inner City Press asked about the arrest of people perceived to support the Seleka rebels, including at least two ex parliamentarians. Khan referred to a portion of the statement about targeting of ethnic groups, but would not go beyond it.

Back on January 3, after a briefing of the Council by UN Department of Political Affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman, Inner City Press asked French Ambassador Gerard Araud, what about the Bozize government's arrest of people perceived to support the Seleka rebels?

Araud replied, "That would be one of the messages of the Council."

But it does not appear to be in the press statement. The more vague "targeting of ethnic groups" is not the same thing; it does not mention the government. The CAR statement calls on the "Seleka coalition" to withdraw from towns it has taken over. But it does not call on these rebels to "disband," as the French drafted text on the Democratic Republic of Congo called on the M23 mutineers. What is the difference?

France's deference on CAR stands in contrast to its active stance on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where it has called the M23 mutineers outlaws, was critical of UN official Susana Malcorra meeting with them, and has not deferred to the Kampala process.

On CAR on January 3, Araud told the press, that "the goal is to have a political agreement in Libreville [on January 8, then] a national unity government."

But some of the rebels say they haven't heard of the talks, or don't believe in them. Watch this site.

Here is the press statement, as provided by the Mission of Pakistan:

 The members of the Security Council were briefed on 3 January 2013, by Mr. Jeffrey D. Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, on the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR).
The members of the Security Council expressed their concern regarding the “Seleka” coalition’s advance toward Banguisince the last Security Council press statement of December 27, reiterated their urgent call for an end to “Seleka’s military offensive, and stressed that the current situation in CAR cannot be resolved militarily.  They called again on all parties to seek a peaceful solution by engaging constructively, without preconditions, and in good faith in the negotiations to be held in Libreville beginning January 8 under the auspices of the Economic Community of the Central African States (ECCAS).  The members of the Security Council urged all parties to abide by the Constitution and encouraged the government, armed groups, political opposition, and other interested parties in CAR, to participate in dialogue and to use this opportunity to negotiate a comprehensive politicalsolution to the long-standing problems in the country while respecting the 2008 Libreville Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
In this regard, the members of the Security Council recalled their support to the work of ECCAS and the contribution made by countries of the region to identify ways out of the crisis.  They welcomed the visit of the African Union President to CAR and the expression of support by the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union for the steps taken by countries of the region.  They also expressed their support forthe efforts of SRSG Vogt to help resolve the crisis.
Taking note of the recent announcement by the “Seleka” coalition of a halt in military activities, the members of the Security Council reiterated their demand that the “Seleka” coalition of armed groups cease all hostilities, withdraw fromseized cities, and cease attempts to advance further.  These military activities gravely undermine security and stability of CAR, constitute a threat to the civilian population, and hinder the provision of humanitarian assistance.  The members of the Council urged all parties to allow safe and unhindered humanitarian access to the affected civilian population.
The members of the Security Council expressed concern about reports of the targeting of ethnic minorities, arrests, detentions, looting, as well as recruitment and use of children in armed conflict in CAR and strongly reiterated their call on all parties to refrain from any acts of violence against civilians and to respect human rights, and emphasized that those responsible for such violations should be held accountable.
The members of the Security Council emphasized the responsibility of the Government of the Central African Republic to maintain law and order and to ensure the safety and security of the civilian population. 

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