UN report urges Central Africans to press ahead with elections preparations

In his latest report to the Security Council on developments in the impoverished and conflict-plagued country, Mr. Ban encouraged the United Nations-backed Independent Electoral Commission to continue with its work, “despite challenges surrounding the preparation of credible, transparent and inclusive elections.”The polls were scheduled to be held in April, but then were pushed back to May following complaints by opposition groups. However, the Commission postponed the elections again, citing technical and logistical difficulties.The Secretary-General urged the international community to continue supporting the CAR’s electoral process and Member States to contribute resources to an election fund set up by the UN Development Programme (UNDP).“These efforts would help to maintain the momentum generated by the inclusive political dialogue and facilitate the advent of a stable democracy founded on lasting peace and sustainable development,” he wrote.Acknowledging the adoption of two constitutional amendments allowing President Francois Bozizé and the National Assembly to remain in office after their mandates expire, the report called on all sides to “show a high level of responsibility and respect for the constitutional order and to agree on a consensual approach to move the electoral process forward.”Mr. Ban underscored the “critical need” for the Commission to swiftly formulate a realistic calendar for the polls, which come after a decade of sporadic conflict between Government and rebel forces.While visiting the country in February, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay stressed that the elections “presents a tremendous opportunity for the Central African Republic, both to show the world and the people of the Central African Republic that it can hold successful, free and fair elections, and to take a great leap forward towards securing a peaceful democratic future.”In the new report, the Secretary-General also voiced concern over the slow pace of the implementation of the disarmament and demobilization phases of the reintegration process.Wrapping up the scheme will help create an environment conducive to holding polls, he said, while “any further delay could lead to frustration on the part of ex-combatants waiting for disarmament and lead to a relapse into conflict.”Mr. Ban also expressed concern over the disappearances of political leaders, especially at such a “fragile juncture” in the country’s peace and national reconciliation process.“I call upon the authorities of the Central African Republic to clarify those occurrences and to remain firmly committed to ensuring the safety of the politico-military leaders who have joined the peace process.”The UN Peacebuilding Support Office in CAR, know as BONUCA, set up in 2000, transformed into the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in CAR (BINUCA) on 1 January in an effort to build on peace agreements between the Government and rebel groups signed in Libreville, Gabon, in 2008 and subsequent political talks.Today the head of BINUCA and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in the CAR, Sahle-Work Zewde, briefed the Council on the latest developments in the impoverished country.Later, Ambassador Claude Heller of Mexico, which holds the rotating Council presidency this month, read out a press statement in which members noted “the consensual decision” on the postponement of the polls and called on all sides to play their part to ensure that free, fair and credible elections can be held.The 15-member panel stressed “the importance that the Government of the CAR adopt and implement at an early date a realistic electoral timetable and budget that would foster increased support from the international community for the electoral process.”The press statement also voiced concern at the slow place of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process and urged all sides to step up measures in this area.Meanwhile, the Council last month voted to end the UN Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) by the end of this year after the Chadian Government requested the move and said it would assume full responsibility for protecting civilians on its territory.The Council set up the mission in September 2007 to help protect civilians and facilitate humanitarian aid to thousands of people uprooted due to insecurity in the two countries and the neighbouring Darfur region of Sudan.The 15-member body ordered that MINURCAT’s military component be reduced from its current 3,300 troops to 2,200 military personnel – 1,900 in Chad and 300 in the CAR – by 15 July. Withdrawal of the remaining troops will begin on 15 October, and all military and civilian personnel are to be withdrawn by 31 December. 28 June 2010Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged all parties in the Central African Republic (CAR) to forge ahead with preparations for presidential and parliamentary elections, which were originally scheduled for earlier this year but have been postponed several times. read more

Closing Bell TSX little changed as BlackBerry Ltd reports surprise 23M Q1

TORONTO — The Toronto stock market was barely changed Thursday as traders continued to digest the latest policy announcements from the U.S. Federal Reserve.Here are the closing numbersTSX — 15,112.22+2.97 0.02%S&P 500 —  1,959.48+2.50 0.13%Dow — 16,921.46+14.84 0.09%Nasdaq — 4,359.33 -3.51 -0.08%The S&P/TSX composite index inched up 2.97 points to settle at 15,112.22, adding to its record close on Wednesday which came six years to the day of the previous record set in June 2008, just before the Great Recession sent stocks tumbling. The loonie gained 0.23 of a cent to 92.40 cents US.Wall Street was also muted as markets assessed Wednesday’s Fed statement, which hinted that the central bank wasn’t too worried about inflation but gave no signs on when it might start raising interest rates. The Dow Jones industrials rose 14.84 points to 16,921.46, the Nasdaq dipped 3.51 points to 4,359.33, while the S&P 500 index added 2.50 points to 1,959.48. Andrew Pyle, senior wealth adviser at Scotia McLeod in Peterborough, Ont., said both Bay Street and Wall Street seem to be pulling back a bit as traders realize that the Fed statement did not necessarily warrant sending stocks higher. “The reaction to the Fed announcement was a knee-jerk reaction,” Pyle said. “If we look at what the Fed is producing in terms of material behind its decision, the markets should not have rallied to the extent that it did. The fed officials are still looking at tightening policy, they’re still tapering, quantitative easing and, going into 2015, there is going to be less stimulation for stock markets.”As expected, the Fed also announced it would continue to reduce its monthly bond buyback program by US$10 billion to US$35 billion a month starting in July, on signs of a steadily growing U.S. economy.On Thursday, the Conference Board said its index of leading indicators for the American economy increased 0.5% last month, the fourth consecutively monthly increase for the measure, which attempts to gauge the economy’s future health. In corporate news, BlackBerry (TSX:BB) posted a surprise US$23-million profit in its first quarter, which beat analyst expectations and showed that efforts the company has made to revamp its smartphone business are making headway.BlackBerry CEO John Chen said the Waterloo, Ont., company plans on launching a new keyboard smartphone called the BlackBerry Passport in September. It will also continue to dedicate more resources to serving business and public sector customers after a failed attempt to compete with Apple’s iPhone in the consumer market. Shares in BlackBerry gained more than 9% or 84 cents to close at $9.84 in Toronto.Meanwhile, commodity markets were higher amid growing geopolitical instability. Traders bought into gold, sending the price of August bullion up $41.40 to US$1,314.10 an ounce.Pyle said traders are moving into the precious metal as many expect continued volatility in the stock markets going into the summer due to fighting in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian insurgents and government forces and the situation in Iraq. U.S. President Barack Obama said he was dispatching up to 300 U.S. military advisers to help quell the insurgency in Iraq. Though not specifically mentioning airstrikes, Obama also said he was leaving open the possibility of “targeted and precise military action” in the future.The July crude contract added 46 cents to US$106.05 a barrel while July copper added two cents to US$3.08 a pound.TOP STORIESAs investors cheer BlackBerry results, CEO Chen touts next phase of turnaround‘The short trade is over’: What analysts are saying about BlackBerry’s earnings beatCanadians are getting richer and their mortgage debt is shrinkingWhy investors should hold off on celebrating the TSX’s new closing record for nowAmerican Apparel CEO Dov Charney suspended as board seeks to fire him over alleged misconductWHAT’S ON DECK FRIDAYCANADA8:30 a.m.Consumer Price Index (May): Economists expect Retail Sales (April): Economists expect CORPORATE NEWSUNITED STATESDarden Restaurants  Q4 earnings: Analysts expect 94¢ a share CarMax, Inc. Q1 earnings: Analysts expect 67¢ a share read more