Gripped by violence since an armed rebellion ousted President Francois Bozize in 2013 and spiraled into sectarian fighting that has killed thousands and created a humanitarian disaster, the people of the Central African Republic now have the chance re-establish peace and stability in their country.
On January 21, government-led teams began traveling throughout the C.A.R., and to neighboring nations where Central Africans have sought refuge, to conduct a grassroots dialogue to help move the nation away from violence and conflict and forward toward unity, prosperity and peace.
These consultations are fundamental building blocks for a democratic political transition process in the C.A.R., and the United States applauds the strategy. The process will include a national dialogue to be held in Bangui, a constitutional referendum, and free and fair legislative and presidential elections later this year.
We reiterate our full support for this process, as led by the President of the Transitional Government, Catherine Samba Panza, and we support the roadmap based on the Transitional National Charter and endorsed by the International Contact Group.
Our message to those who would derail this process with violence, threats, or other means is clear: stop now, and allow all the people of the C.A.R. to participate in the dialogue process in peace. We urge the international community to join us in this to spoilers who would foment violence and disrupt the transition process for their own gain. We especially condemn attacks or threats targeting individuals who are working to conduct grassroots consultations, or UN and humanitarian partners working to support stability and provide lifesaving aid in the C.A.R.
The future of the C.A.R. must be decided by its citizens. No settlement can be imposed on a nation divided. People must be allowed to come together and find the best way forward to find strength in diversity and resolve their differences.
We also express thanks to the many peacekeepers and humanitarian workers present in the C.A.R. whose work contributes immeasurably to the prospect for peace.