Central African Republic

The Central African Republic is scarcely ever mentioned by the media. This silence is probably due to the fact that ‘there is no trace of the sort of total war that could command international attention. Indeed it is this very mediocrity on the scale of world tragedies that constitutes the drama’, notes Le Monde Diplomatique in its latest edition. ‘Inclusive Political Dialogue'(IPD), as the latest effort to reach a political agreement is known, is in the hands of a Preparatory Committee. This includes the Presidential majority, the democratic opposition, the official authorities, civil society and various politico-military groups.

The members of the Prep. Committee and the organisers during the closing ceremony.

The Mediation Support Unit of the UN’s Department of Political Affairs (DPA) decided to assist in the work of the PC with the organization of a workshop focusing on the dialogue and negotiations that took pace in the capital Bangui February 4-6. As a partner, the Swiss Mediation Support Project (MSP) was put in charge of the workshop. The Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) provided one of its own mediation experts and financed the involvement of swisspeace. The objectives of the workshop were to increase negotiating knowhow including with the help of practical exercises. So as well as lessons on the theory, concepts and techniques of negotiation the program allowed participants to test their skills with practical exercises and discuss the various problems on the basis of real examples.

Denise O’Brien from the UN MSU, Amb. Francois L. Fall (then SRSG in the CAR), M. Cyriaque Gonda (Minister for Dialogue and Reconciliation), and the facilitator of the Prep. Committee Prof. Berhanu Abébé during the opening ceremony.

The Preparatory Committee submitted its proposals to the DPA in April 2008, and the dialogue was eventually held in December 2008, several months later than planned. The implementation of its recommendations is blocked, however, and the success of the further efforts will depend to a great extent on the political will for the definition of new forms of peaceful dispute management. In allowing the various participants and organizations to exchange ideas the workshop provided an opportunity for reflection on the aims of political dialogue, and its meaning. Similar follow-up activities were welcomed by the parties.