Central African Republic: China donates US $106,000 towards national dialogue

BANGUI, 10 March (IRIN) - China has given the Central African Republic (CAR) 65 million francs CFA (US $106,000) towards preparing for and hold a dialogue for national reconciliation, according to the head of the dialogue coordination committee, Bishop Paulin Pomodimo.
"China has paid this amount into the dialogue committee's bank account here in Bangui [the CAR capital]," he told IRIN on Sunday.

Pomodimo had indicated previously that the talks would be held in March, but the date and venue are yet to be fixed.

The Chinese donation follows Gabon's of 100 million francs CFA in February.

The dialogue coordination team and the Ministry of Finance have put the provisional budget for the talks at 750 million francs, of which the government is expected to provide one-fifth.

"During our last trip [to Europe and the US], many friends made strong promises [of contributions]," Pomodimo said.

President Ange-Felix Patasse announced the plans for the national dialogue on 25 November 2002, to end conflict in the country. However, rebel troops loyal to former army chief of staff, Francois Bozize, have been fighting government forces since October 2002.

Patasse says the talks will take place in Bangui, but both the members of the internal opposition and those in exile demand that they be held in another country. The opposition also demands a general amnesty and the withdrawal of the Mouvement de liberation du Congo (MLC) combatants from the CAR. Based in neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo, the MLC troops have been backing the government army since October 2002, but have now withdrawn.


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