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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Chronology 2003

NAIROBI, 8 January 2004 (IRIN) - 21 Jan - A company of 120 Republic of Congo (ROC) soldiers arrive in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), as part of the peacekeeping force sent by the Economic and Monetary Community of Central African States (CEMAC).

23 Jan - A platoon of 31 soldiers from Equatorial Guinea arrive in Bangui where it joins the Gabonese and Congolese peacekeeping contingent of CEMAC troops.

25-26 Jan - Medicos Sin Fronteras (MSF-Spain) and Cooperazione Internationale (Coopi) jointly supply essential drugs to hospitals in two cities still under government control in the northeast of the country. The drugs, worth 1 million francs CFA (about US $1,540), are flown to two provincial hospitals at Ndele and Birao, respectively 645 km and 1,101 km northeast of Bangui.

The northeast has been isolated from Bangui since 25 October 2002, when Gen Francois Bozize, the former army chief of staff, and his supporters invaded the CAR in a bid to overthrow President Ange-Felix Patasse.

7 Feb - The government of Japan and Caritas, a Roman Catholic NGO, sign a 48-million franc CFA agreement to build and rehabilitate wells in Ombella Mpoko Province, southern CAR. These funds are to "help Ombella Mpoko's population contain waterborne diseases and reduce poverty by creating income-generating activities linked to the modernisation of water wells," Jean-Baptiste Mossoumou, the coordinator for Caritas's Bangui archdioceses, says.

8 Feb - The World Food Programme (WFP) says it is unable to reach almost 5,400 internally displaced persons (IDPs) targeted for emergency relief, due to insecurity in the northern part of the country. In its emergency report, it says "virtually no information" is available from the affected area. By contrast, WFP says the "relatively stable security situation" in southern CAR allows it to resume food distributions there.

15 March - Bozize enters Bangui and overthrows the government of Patasse. Bozize declares himself head of state, suspends the government and constitution and maintains that he is still open to the national political dialogue planned by his predecessor.

18 March - MSF-Belgium reports that the situation for about 30,000 CAR refugees who have fled to the south of neighbouring Chad "is becoming more precarious by the day" since the 15 March coup.

19 March - Chad sends 100 soldiers to the CAR to reinforce CEMAC forces.

23 March - Bozize appoints Abel Goumba, 76, as prime minister of a transitional government. Goumba is one of the founding fathers of the CAR.

31 March - Goumba names his 28-member transitional government, comprising representatives of civil society and all political parties.

1 April - Goumba announces that the transition period will last between one and three years, after which elections will be held to decide on a new government. "One to three years are the extreme limits [of the transition period]. It may be halfway. I do not know," he tells Radio France Internationale.

1 April - The representative of the UN secretary-general in the CAR, Lamine Cisse, says the activities of the UN Peace-building Office (BONUCA) in the country will be revised and adapted to the new situation in the country. "The mandate remains the same, but the activities will be readjusted," Cisse, who heads BONUCA, says.

2 April - The newly formed CAR government holds its first cabinet meeting, with Goumba asking all ministers to declare their wealth before assuming office.

3 April - Bozize establishes a 63-member National Transitional Council (NTC) to serve as an advisory and transitional legislative body.

7 April - MSF-Spain's representative in the CAR, Annick Lacits, announces that the organisation has delivered drugs to two hospitals in the war-ravaged northwest, thereby enabling the resumption of emergency services. MSF-Spain supplies three to four weeks' worth of drugs to hospitals in Paoua and Bocaranga, around 500 km northwest of Bangui.

8 April - The CEMAC C-in-C, Martin Mavoungou, says the strength of his peacekeeping troops has been set at 350.

10 April - Bozize announces on state radio that the transitional period would last between 18 and 30 months. He promises to restore peace and security, and fight corruption and poverty during that time.

10 April - WFP announces the suspension of food aid deliveries from the Cameroonian port of Douala to Bangui because of insecurity at its warehouses.

11 April - The new government begins paying salary arrears to civil servants, the police and the military. The government had promised that from the beginning of April it would pay salaries monthly. The payments made are civil servants' salary arrears of April 2001, the June 2001 arrears for the police and those of August 2001 for the military.

14 April - Former Defence Minister Guillaume Lucien Ndjengbot is arrested at Bangui M'poko International Airport on his return from exile. Ndjengbot, who served under former President Andre Kolingba, is arrested as he steps off a private jet. The reason for the arrest is not given.

15 April - The representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the CAR, Emile Segbor, says some 284 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), who had camped on the premises of the agency's offices after the 15 March coup, have left. UNHCR moved 30 of the refugees to Molangue refugee camp, about 140 km south of Bangui, "and the rest returned to their homes."

17 April - The African Union (AU) announces it has sent a special envoy to the CAR to review the situation "in light of the recent developments". The envoy, Sadok Fayala, left for the central Africa region on 14 April.

17 April - The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs contributes 11 mt of relief aid to the UN relief effort for thousands of war-affected people in the CAR, the UN system coordination analyst in the country, Silvia Chiarucci, says. The materials delivered include tents, blankets, rolls of plastic, jerry cans, pickaxes and shovels, and were flown in from Brindisi, Italy.

18 April - Bozize appoints governors to all the country's 16 provinces. They include one woman, who will govern Ombella M'poko Province in which Bangui is located.

22 April - Goumba announces that officials have begun a "diplomatic offensive" across the region to explain the new administration's policies. Foreign Minister Abdoul Karim Meckassoua visits Angola, Chad, ROC, DRC, Gabon, Sudan and West Africa.

23 April - Bozize grants amnesty to all those convicted of involvement in the 28 May 2001 coup attempt led by Kolingba. In August 2002, a criminal court sentenced around 800 people, 600 of whom were outside the country, for their roles in the plot to oust Patasse. Among them, Kolingba, his two sons, and around 20 others from his Yakoma ethnic group, were sentenced to death in absentia.

23-24 April - MSF-Spain immunises 7,560 children in Sibut, 185 km northeast of Bangui. The immunisation is carried out following reports that 22 cases of measles have been detected in Sibut since 1 April.

24 April - The government spokesman, Zarambeaud Assingambi, announces that the government has withdrawn the mineral exploitation licences of Colombe Mine, a mining company owned by Patasse. Assingambi says that the firm and a Togolese businessman, Rene Koffi, reported to be Patasse's brother-in-law, are no longer authorised to exploit the CAR's resources. No reason was given for the decision.

25 April - Bozize announces that he will step down as leader after the transition period of between 18 and 30 months.

28 April - Some 100 ROC soldiers leave their capital, Brazzaville, in support of the CEMAC force. They join a contingent of 150 soldiers from the ROC sent there in January.

30 April - The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) monitoring-evaluation project officer, Robert Ndamobissi, announces that the agency has donated drugs and medical equipment worth $550,000 to be distributed to 890,000 people in six provinces in the east of the country.

30 April - The UN system in CAR appeals to donors for $9.1 million to help two-thirds of the country's 3.7 million people directly affected by war. The money will be used to improve health delivery, food security, human protection and the coordination of humanitarian activities for the 2.2 million beneficiaries, 400,000 of whom are children under five years old and 600,000 women of childbearing age.

1 May - The prime minister's office announces that the state has recovered $2 million owed the government by 11 timber companies. The director of the cabinet in the prime minister's office, Marcel Djimasse, says the companies were asked to pay up before they could become eligible for provisional licences to log.

2 May - Teachers end their seven-month nationwide strike for partial payment of their 32 months in salary arrears. The agreement to do so was reached on 30 April between the Teachers' Federation, (L'Interfederale des enseignants, which represents two teachers' unions), and the eduction ministry. Classes will reopen on 5 May.

2-6 May - A UN humanitarian assessment mission to the northern province of Ouham finds that water facilities were seriously damaged during the recent months of fighting.

6 May - Mavoungou says the CEMAC peacekeeping force will remain in CAR until the end of the political transitional period.

7 May - The government sets up a joint government-UN-NGO committee, known as the Comite National d'Accueil et de Reinsertion des Rapatries, for the repatriation of thousands of the nation's refugees.

13 May - In efforts to improve security Bozize appoints commanders for the country's seven military regions. The appointments follow those of governors for the 16 provinces in April.

17 May - A total of 600 IDPs, including 400 teachers and their families, return home from Bangui, in compliance with a government directive to resume teaching.

17 May - The government spokesman, Zarambeaud Assingambi, announces that women's organisations have been granted four more seats in the NTC. He also announces that the government increased the council's membership from 63 to 96, giving women's organisations six seats, from an initial two.

23 May - In a joint operation, the military, police, gendarmerie and CEMAC troops begin a sweep to restore security in Bangui.

28 May - MSF announces that signs of malnutrition have been observed among an estimated 41,000 refugees from the CAR who fled to Chad since November 2002.

28 May - The adviser to the French army chief of staff for the Middle East and Africa, Gen Pellegrini, says France will continue to support the CEMAC force up to the end of the political transition period.

30 May - Bozize announces that his rule will end in January 2005.

30 May - An official to the EC delegation to the country, Laurent Silano, announces that the EC has launched a €1.79-million emergency programme to revamp and re-equip health facilities in nine of the country's war-affected provinces.

7 June - The CAR signs an interest-free loan agreement of 1.5 billion francs CFA with the People's Republic of China (PRC) for the implementation of socioeconomic development projects.

8 June - Eight executive board members of the former ruling party, Mouvement pour la liberation du peuple centrafricain (MPLC), are arrested as they hold a meeting in Bangui. They are accused of organising "subversive meetings" to destabilise the new administration. Those arrested include Gabriel Jean Edouard Koyambounou, the former minister of state for communication and MPLC second deputy chairman, Joseph Vermont Tchendo, the former MLPC secretary-general and Patasse's special adviser, and Andre Ringui, the former education minister.

9 June - UNHCR begins repatriation of 1,108 refugees from the DRC and the ROC.

12 June - The AU commissioner for refugees, Bruno Zidouemba, presents a $50,000 cheque to Justice Minister Faustin Mbodou to support the government's repatriation of CAR refugees.

12 June - A team comprising a physician and a logistics officer from the Coopi, arrives in Bossangoa, 305 km northwest of Bangui, to start distributing EC-funded drugs to local health facilities.

13 June - Bozize and DRC President Joseph Kabila agree to revive bilateral defence accords and to relaunch a CAR-DRC commission on security along the Congo and Oubangui rivers.

17 June - An oil company belonging to Patasse is suspended from transacting business in the country.

19 June - The government submits to a visiting UN delegation its outline of a three-year emergency reconstruction programme worth 80 billion francs CFA it wants funded. Of this, 13 billion francs is earmarked for social and humanitarian operations.

23 June - The government and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) sign agreements worth $730,000 to revive farming in the country devastated by the rebellion.

25 June - Coopi is distributing drugs to two hospitals respectively in Bozoum and Paoua, 384 km and 506 km northwest of Bangui, in an effort to last some three months. The NGO also sends drugs to Ngaoundaye, 600 km northwest of Bangui, on the CAR-Cameroon-Chad border.

26 June - State-owed Radio Centrafrique and Television Centrafricaine reports that Bozize has directed Justice Minister Faustin Mbodou to recover some 4.8 billion francs CFA, which had been donated by Japan to the government and embezzled during Patasse's rule.

27 June - The government allows former Prime Minister Martin Ziguele to fly to France where he has been granted political asylum. He served as prime minister and finance minister between April 2001 and 15 March 2003.

2 July - Communications Minister Parfait Mbaye announces that Japan has given the CAR 165 million francs CFA for the rehabilitation of the state-owned Radio Centrafrique and Television Centrafricaine.

3 July - An inter-ministerial commission set up in May to investigate the size of the civil service found 866 ghost workers on the payroll, the prime minister's office reports. The government says it could save up to 265 million francs CFA every month by not paying ghost workers.

7 July - The CAR and Libya decide to resume diplomatic ties after four months of uncertainty. Bozize and the Libyan leader, Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi, make the commitment when they meet in the Chadian capital, N'djamena.

13 July - CEMAC troops begin patrolling the towns of Bossangoa, Markounda, Paoua, Ngaoundaye and Bozoum, and Bocaranga - all northwest of Bangui.

16 July - The PRC ambassador, Wang Sifa, announces that his government has granted of 100 million francs CFA to support the government's reconstruction efforts. It is the second grant by China to the Bozize administration.

22 July - The WFP representative, David Bulman, says the agency has resumed transporting food into the CAR from neighbouring Cameroon, where it had been held up for four months due to insecurity in the CAR.

29 July - MSF-Spain begins a massive anti-measles vaccination drive in the northern town of Nana Bakassa and 30 surrounding villages with a combined total population of 12,000. Of these, 5,500 are children aged between six months and 15 years and who are due for vaccination during the three-day campaign.

31 July - The International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) delegate in CAR, Francois Jacot, announces it has received 1.2 billion francs CFA from its Geneva headquarters to start a potable water programme for eight locations in the country.

30 July - French Foreign Minister Dominique De Villepin announces in Bangui that France will train and equip three CAR army battalions and gendarmerie units to help restore security in the country. The first battalion is to be ready and equipped before the end of the year.

1 Aug - The CEMAC force declares the north of the country safe, and all major transport routes open.

11 Aug - the US Department of State announces that CAR, DRC, ROC and Tanzania are among 58 participants eligible for trade in rough diamonds with the US in accordance with the Clean Diamond Trade Act.

14 Aug - Bozize orders security forces, administrative authorities and the public to help recover $363 million worth of equipment belonging to the Japanese road construction company, Kajima, which was looted after his 15 March coup.

17-20 Aug - A delegation from the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States pledges to help the CAR to normalise relations with the EC.

25 Aug - The FAO appeals for $2.6 million to distribute farming, livestock and fishing inputs to vulnerable populations before the start of the next planting season in April 2004.

27 Aug - The UNHCR begins the repatriation of about 1,700 CAR refugees from the northern ROC town of Betou, where they have been since June 2001.

29 Aug - The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) receives $64,000 worth of stationery for distribution to school children and teachers in zones affected by the October 2002 to March 2003 civil war. The material will be distributed to the northern provinces of Ouham Pende, Ouham and Nana Grebizi.

13 Sept - The first CAR soldiers - 16 non-commissioned officers - trained by French military instructors since the March coup complete their two-month course.

15 Sept - National reconciliation talks begin in Bangui aimed at healing the nation deeply divided by years of armed conflict, coups and ethnic rivalries. A total of 350 delegates representing different political, social, religious and professional affiliations are in attendance.

5 Oct - Kolingba returns home after two years of exile in Uganda, following an amnesty granted by Bozize. He had fled to Uganda after his failed coup on 28 May 2001 against Patasse.

6 Oct - Health authorities resume the immunisation of children in the northwestern towns of Bozoum, Paoua, Bocaranga and Ngaoundaye, which have been cut off for a year by war and insecurity. The vaccinations are against tuberculosis, diptheria, tetanus, whooping cough, measles and yellow fever.

10 Oct - After 40 years of political enmity, Goumba, 77, and former President David Dacko, 73, embrace in an historic act of reconciliation in Bangui, during the national political reconciliation talks.

16 Oct - The national reconciliation talks in the CAR end with the completion of the final report and the setting up of a team to oversee implementation of the recommendations made. A 21-member follow-up team, including 15 people elected by the 350 delegates to the talks, and representatives of the government, the NTC and the talks' coordination team, is set up.

21 Oct - The government and the French Development Agency, the Agence Francaise de Developpement, sign agreements worth $10.3 million for water drainage and road repair projects in Bangui, and to revamp the country's river transport company.

21 Oct - WFP begins a food distribution to 2,530 former refugees who returned home in June from northern DRC after two years. The returnees are to receive food rations for 90 days.

23 Oct - MSF-Spain begins a three-day measles immunisation campaign, targeting 11,000 children in Bozoum, following reports of an outbreak earlier this year.

24 Oct - A nationwide curfew that had been in force since 15 March power is lifted.

27 Oct - Regional leaders officially close the national reconciliation talks. The presidents of the ROC and Gabon attended the event. Benin, Chad, Mali and Sudan as well as the Community of Sahelo-Saharan States and the African Union sent envoys.

3 Nov - Government launches nationwide anti-polio immunisation campaign aimed at reaching at least 650,000 children aged under five years.

12 Nov - The nation's high commissioner for human rights, Thierry Maleyombo, announces the government's disbandment of a military intelligence unit in the presidential security services, Service d'Enquete, de Recherche et de Documentation. The unit is accused of engaging in torture, rape and extortion.

20 Nov - Dacko, 73, dies in the Cameroonian capital, Yaounde, where he was receiving treatment for asthma.

30 Nov - A government committee set up to oversee implementation of recommendations made at the end of a national reconciliation forum in mid-October announces the revision of the country's transition calendar. The committee's chairwoman, Catherine Samba-Panza, says the country's constitutional referendum will now be held in September 2004 instead of mid-2004. General elections, earlier set for the third and last quarter of 2004, will now be held between November 2004 and April 2005.

2-3 Dec - Bozize and his Sudanese counterpart, President Umar al-Bashir, resolve to revive a joint border security commission to curb poaching and cross-border attacks between the two countries. The agreement is reached during Bozize's two-day visit to Sudan that ended on 3 Dec.

8 Dec - A nationwide population census begins in the CAR, with financial and logistic support from the EC, the UN Population Fund and the UN Development Programme.

9 Dec - The FAO begins distributing canoes to fishing cooperatives in Bangui and surrounding areas, to help the fishing community to recover from the consequences of the May 2001 coup attempt.

11 Dec - Bozize dismisses Goumba and his government.

12 Dec - Newly appointed Prime Minister Celestin Le Roi Gaoumbale forms a new transitional government. Bozize appoints Goumba vice-president.

15 Dec - Bozize allows the UNHCR to repatriate refugees from the DRC using the Oubangui river which, besides serving as the border between the two countries, has been closed to human traffic since September.

16 Dec - The first 301 of thousands of refugees from the DRC in the CAR go home under a repatriation programme facilitated by the UNHCR.

20 Dec - The NTC approves a bill authorising Bozize to ratify two treaties aimed at preventing and managing conflict in central Africa. A date for the ratification has not been announced.

22 Dec - WFP begins distributing of three-months' rations to 1,919 former CAR refugees who recently returned from the ROC and Cameroon.

23 Dec - Bozize signs an order dismissing a number of soldiers from the army because of indiscipline. The soldiers named have been removed from army lists and sent home.

26 Dec - The NTC adopts an updated mining code to replace the one written during the colonial era and which proved obsolete with regard to smuggling and anti-corruption efforts. The new code was influenced by the August 2003 national conference on mining and by the September-October national reconciliation forum, both of which called for the revival of the mining sector.

30 Dec - The French government will support security efforts to ensure the success of the electoral process scheduled to close the transition period in the CAR in early 2005, French Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie says in Bangui.

Theme(s): (IRIN) Other

[ENDS]

 

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