NEW YORK, 5 FEBRUARY 1998
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR TADEU SOARES, DEPUTY PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF PORTUGAL, TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL 3853rd MEETING (the situation in the Central African Republic)
I wish first of all, Sir, to express my delegations satisfaction at seeing you presiding over this meeting of the Security Council. Your presence is logical not only because Gabon holds the presidency of the Council for this month, but also as a reflection of the role that your country, your President and you yourself have played in the resolute search for a solution to the problems of the Central African Republic.
The Inter-African Mission to Monitor the Implementation of the Bangui Agreements (MISAB) in the Central African Republic is a good example of what Africa can do to prevent conflicts and to stabilize crises. The activities of MISAB, however, require complementary support from the international community. In this regard we commend France for the vital assistance it has been providing thus far. But the United Nations will have to consider soon how best to capitalize on these efforts so as not to jeopardize the success so far achieved.
Portugal would like again to pay tribute to the African mediation initiative and to the Organization of African Unity (OAU), and to reaffirm its support for the International Monitoring Committee and for MISAB and its troop-contributing States Burkina Faso, Chad, Gabon and Mali in their very important role in the ongoing process of national reconciliation in that country. In that same context, we would like to praise the efforts of the Chairman of the International Monitoring Committee and of President Bongo of Gabon, who have been playing an important role in the resolution of the crisis and in the monitoring of the implementation of the Bangui Agreements. As I said before, Mr. President, your presence here today is a reflection of the important role played by your country in this process.
The situation in the Central African Republic remains precarious. The disruption of the current volatile security, social and economic conditions would have serious repercussions for the region as a whole. Therefore, Portugal welcomes the Secretary-Generals recommendations regarding the concepts for a future United Nations presence after the withdrawal of MISAB forces on 16 March. We agree in general terms with the Secretary-Generals evaluation of the still-fragile peace process and the international environment in that subregion of Africa. We also share the view expressed in the Secretary-Generals report that the parties concerned should fulfil, as soon as possible, all the provisions of the Bangui Agreements, and that substantial reform should be undertaken to revitalize the countrys economy and to improve the living conditions of the population.
Given the progress already achieved, which should not be compromised, as well as the enormous tasks that lie ahead for the full implementation of the Bangui Agreements and long-term stability in the Central African Republic, Portugal agrees that there is a need to establish a peacekeeping operation in that country as a major preventive measure, as referred to by the Secretary-General. In this context, Portugal supports the draft resolution before us today.