Bangui (Fides Service) – The recognition of President Bozize by neighbouring countries which form CEMAC the Economic and Monetary Union of Central Africa, “is one more step towards the normalisation of the country” a local missionary tells Fides Service. “After months of political and military crisis the country has a vital need of aid and funds from both the European Union and the international community which can only be granted to a legally recognised government. This is why the CEMAC decision is so important as is Bozize's promise to hold free elections within a reasonable time. Now the most urgent problems are to rebuild infrastructures damaged by the war, pay state workers and eliminate rampant banditry”.
In a statement after a June 3 meeting in Gabon, the CEMAC member countries, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and the Central African Republic, affirmed: “The heads of state have decided to officially recognise the new authority of the Central African Republic." Bozize, for his part, promised elections in January 2005.
On 15 March Bozize took power in Central Africa overthrowing President Ange-Felix Patasse ending a conflict which started in 2002.
“With regard to the problem of banditry,- the missionary tells Fides Service – the government promised to deal seriously with the matter. In recent weeks in fact a considerable improvement has been seen in public order in the capital, but the situation is still difficult in rural areas where bandits work undisturbed. Along the northern border with Chad there is no frontier control and groups of armed bandits come across and assault Central African villages”.
Despite difficulties, missionaries are returning to their work even in the most exposed missions. Fides sources confirm this: “The Church as such has not been persecuted but many missions were sacked during the coup and during the war. Now it is time to repair the damage. The roads are still unsafe, but this does not prevent missionaries from carrying on although many are now without a motor vehicle, indispensable for moving around in parishes which often extend for hundreds of square kilometres. LM (Fides Service 6/6/2003 EM lines 36 Words: 406)