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In Central African Republic, UN peacekeeping chief underscores political solution to end violence

The top United Nations peacekeeping official is in the Central African Republic where he today discussed the security situation and the political process, while paying homage to three UN 'blue helmets' killed in the line of duty in recent days.

“The security dimension is important but it is only part of the solution,” Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix said at a press conference in Bangui, stressing the importance of the political process in the country.

During his 48-hour visit, Mr. Lacroix met with President Faustin Touadéra, the Prime Minister, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and engaged with the President of the National Assembly.

He also met with representatives of religious groups and civil society, as well as the diplomatic corps.

“We need Central African leadership so that these processes can continue and progress,” he said, stressing the importance of national ownership.

According to the UN Peacekeeping Mission in the country, known by its French acronym MINUSCA, he also urged prioritizing implementation of the ceasefire that was agreed upon in Rome on 20 June.

Speaking to the press, he warned against messages of hatred and division that advocate polarization on ethnic or religious grounds within Central African society: “It is a poison and it is a duty to condemn these messages and stress that those who sow hatred will answer for their actions.”

During the visit, Mr. Lacroix also met with the staff of the UN Mission and paid tribute to the three peacekeepers killed during attacks by alleged anti-Balaka fighters in Bangassou last week.

He also met with new troops from Tanzania and Zambia who recently joined MINUSCA.

Their arrival provides “more force and greater flexibility” for redeployment, and will make it possible to more effectively protect the population, the senior UN official said.

“UNMISCA is implementing its robust mandate and is reorganizing to implement it further,” he said.

Mr. Lacroix is expected to leave the CAR today and proceed next to South Sudan.