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Central African Republic: African Union appoints special envoy for peace process

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NAIROBI, 12 February (IRIN) - The interim chairman of the Commission of the African Union (AU), Amara Essy, on Wednesday appointed Sadok Fayala of Tunisia as special envoy to the Central African Republic (CAR).
The AU said Fayala's mission would include establishing regular contacts with CAR authorities and other stakeholders, and supporting on behalf of the AU efforts aimed at enhancing peace, stability and concord in the CAR, including initiatives of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States, which is deploying a peacekeeping force in the CAR aimed at bringing about the normalisation of Chad-Central African relations. In discharging his mission, the AU said, Fayala would work closely with the leaders of the countries of the region and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's representative in the CAR, Lamine Cisse.

Tension between CAR and Chad first arose in November 2001 when the CAR army former chief of staff, Francois Bozize, and his supporters fled to the southern Chadian city of Sarh after five days of fighting in the northern suburbs of the CAR capital, Bangui. Government troops had tried to arrest Bozize, whom judicial authorities sought to question over a coup attempt on 28 May 2001 that the government said ex-President Andre Kolingba had hatched.

The AU statement said Fayala would soon proceed to the CAR and other countries in the region to initiate contacts with all concerned parties.

"This decision is consistent with the efforts currently being deployed by the AU in the search for peace and stability in the CAR, and comes after the 89th ordinary session of the central organ of the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution held in Addis Ababa on 15 January 2003," the AU said in a statement.

"That session was devoted to consideration of the situation in the CAR and the relations between the CAR and Chad. It endorsed the opening of an African Union liaison office in the CAR, with the mission to ensure more regular contact with the Central African authorities and other political and social stakeholders in that country, as well as to support the reconciliation process in that country."

According to the AU statement, Fayala has held numerous diplomatic posts and positions of responsibility in his government, including those of Secretary of State for African Affairs and Secretary of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in charge of Maghrebian and African Affairs.

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