UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The Central African Republic on Tuesday pleaded with the U.N. Security Council for help as it grapples with rebels ahead of an expected withdrawal of U.N. peacekeepers stationed there and in neighboring Chad.
Last month the Central African Republic announced it would delay presidential and legislative elections until January 23, 2011 from October 24 due to insecurity caused by rebels in the northeastern part of the country.
Bowing to demands from Chad, the Security Council in May instructed U.N. peacekeepers in Chad and Central African Republic, known as MINURCAT, to withdraw from the impoverished part of Africa by the year’s end.
But Central African Republic’s Foreign Minister Antoine Gambi asked the council not to abandon his country.
“Now that the mandate of MINURCAT is coming to an end, there is a need to protect the very future of this part of the country, still precarious, which can at any point stumble back into violence given the many destabilizing factors,” he said.
He said his country was confronting rebellion, banditry and inter-ethnic conflict and “other emerging threats.”
“The announcement of the withdrawal of the United Nations mission to the Central African Republic ... will have dangerous consequences if we’re not careful,” he told the council.
After the council meeting, Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, this month’s president of the 15-nation body, told reporters it had discussed the consequences of MINURCAT’s withdrawal from the CAR “and the need to avoid any vacuum of security in the sub-region.” He gave no further details.
Several different rebel groups, including the feared Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army, are active in the country’s north and east, and recent attacks have reinforced doubts it would be able to adequately prepare for an election.
In his latest report on MINURCAT to the Security Council, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon presented several options for helping the CAR deal with the departure of peacekeepers.
One option, Ban said, was creation of a new peacekeeping force of around 1,000 troops and civilian personnel just for the Central African Republic, which he said would aim to “deter insecurity in the area” and to provide security and evacuate humanitarian aid workers when necessary.
A better option, Ban told the council, would be for the United Nations to help the country build up its own security sector and armed forces, which could be boosted with the creation of a joint Chadian-Central African Republic border patrol and patrols on its Sudanese border.
Several Western diplomats said Gambi met privately with council members on Monday. They said most council members appeared amenable to providing his country with the necessary support once MINURCAT is gone.
Editing by Jerry Norton
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