Washington, DC - The United States warmly welcomes the launch of grassroots consultations in the Central African Republic (CAR). As teams travel throughout the country and to neighboring nations where citizens of CAR have sought refuge, they will listen to the voices of all of the people of CAR, and thereby help move the nation away from violence and conflict and forward toward unity, prosperity, and peace.

The grassroots consultations are fundamental building blocks for the democratic political transition process in CAR, which must also include a national dialogue to be held in Bangui, a constitutional referendum, and free and fair legislative and presidential elections later this year. The United States reiterates our full support for this process, as led by the President of the Transitional Government, Catherine Samba Panza. We support the roadmap based on the Transitional National Charter and endorsed by the International Contact Group (ICG).

Our message to those who would derail this process with violence, threats, or other means is simple: stop now, and allow all the people of CAR to participate in the dialogue process in peace. We urge all of CAR’s friends in the region and throughout the world to join us in this strong call to spoilers who would foment violence and disrupt the transition process, recalling that the UN Security Council has provided for targeted sanctions against such spoilers and those who support them. We especially condemn attacks on or threats against those individuals who are working to conduct the grassroots consultations and against UN and humanitarian partners who are working to support stability and provide lifesaving aid in CAR. We call for the immediate release of government officials held hostage, and for the grassroots consultation teams to be allowed free and unimpeded movement immediately.

We continue to express our appreciation for the efforts to bring peace to CAR by the CAR Mediator, Republic of the Congo President Denis Sassou N’Guesso, and by his UN and African Union co-mediators. We fully endorse the Mediator's call, in his January 17 communique, for CAR’s people and leaders to remain central to any discussions of CAR’s future. The future of CAR must be decided in CAR. We also express thanks to the many peacekeepers and humanitarian workers present in CAR whose work contributes immeasurably to the prospect for peace.