The Great Lakes Policy Forum, the National Democratic Institute, and the National Endowment for Democracy
- Emilie Beatrice Epaye, Member of the National Transitional Council
- Nicolas Guerekoyama Gbangou, Member of the National Transitional Council
- The Right Reverend Nestor Nongo Aziagbia, Bishop of Bossangoa
- Mathias Morouba, Attorney and head of Observatoire Centrafricain des Droits de l’Homme (OCDH)
- Dave Peterson, Senior Director for Africa, National Endowment for Democracy
moderated by Ambassador Laurence D. Wohlers, Former US Ambassador to the Central African Republic
Friday, September 27, 2013
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
1025 F Street, N.W., Suite 800, Washington, D.C. 20004
About the Event
On March 24, 2013, the Seleka rebels seized control of the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), Bangui, forcing President Francois Bozize to flee. Current President Michel Djotodia faces the difficult task of restoring order and organizing elections once the 18-month transition period expires. The Central African legislature and civil society members discussed the latest crisis situation in the Central African Republic, impacting the Great Lakes region as a whole.
About the Speakers
Emilie Béatrice Epaye is the Co-Founder and current President of the Voice of the Heart Foundation, the first non-profit organization to support and reintegrate street children in the Central African Republic. She is also the Co-Founder of the French Alliance of Bangui.
She was President of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the National Assembly as well as a member of the National Transitional Council from 2003 to 2005, which drafted the country’s constitution in 2004. During the same time, Emilie Béatrice Epaye was a member of the Inter-Parliamentary Commission of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC).
For nearly five years, Emilie Béatrice Epaye was Minister of Commerce, Industry and Small and Medium Enterprises (2005-2006) and Minister of Trade and Industry (2008-2011). As Minister of Trade and Industry in 2008 she chaired the Board of Directors of the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI). In this capacity she chaired the first African Conference on Intellectual Property in Dakar organized by OAPI. She has been heavily involved as a member of the Council of Ministers of the Economic Union of Central Africa (CAEU), which earned her the Medal of Grand Officer of the Order of Merit from the CEMAC Community (2010).
After studying theology at the Theological Institute in Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast (1987-1991), Nicolas Guerekoyame Gbangou became Reverend of a church in Bangassou, Central African Republic. During his long time engagement with the Christian Youth of CAR, he was the first elected Vice-President and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Alliance of Evangelicals in 2010. He is also Chairman of the Regional Association of Evangelical Churches. Additionally, he is National Advisor to the National Transitional Council and a member of the platform of religious denominations in Bangui.
Maitre Mathias Morouba is a lawyer and legal counsel at the International Criminal Court for the Central African Republic. He is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Bangui, after obtaining his Inter-University Postgraduate Diploma in Fundamental Rights from the University of Paris X and Nantes University and a Master’s degree in private law at the University of Bangui. He also specialized in economic, social and cultural rights at the Summer of Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland (OIDEL SUHR).
Maitre Mathias Morouba is currently a lecturer of rights and criminology at the private law school Walombe. Furthermore, Maitre Morouba is President of the Central Observatory of Human Rights (OCDH), First Vice President of the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Bishops Conference, and deputy coordinator of the Network of NGOs on Human Rights in Central Africa. He is also responsible for coordinating the organizations of civil society members of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region.
The Right Reverend Nestor Nongo Aziagbia has been bishop of the diocese of Bossangoa since 2012. He is also Vice-President of the Central African Episcopal Conference for 2013. He belongs to the Society of African Missions and spent many years on a mission in Nigeria (1998 to 2004) and has held several positions in the diocese of Strasbourg, France (chaplain of the College of African Missions, Chaplain of Scouts, chaplaincy civil Hospital of Haguenau, Head of the Chapel of the African Missions and pastor of the parish community – Earth Mission) from 2004 to 2012.
Dave Peterson is the Senior Director of the Africa Program of the National Endowment for Democracy, a privately-incorporated, publicly-funded grant-making organization in Washington, DC. Since 1988, he has been responsible for NED’s program to identify and assist hundreds of African non-governmental organizations and activists working for democracy, human rights, free press, justice and peace. He was formerly executive director of Project South Africa of the A. Philip Randolph Educational Fund, and a freelance journalist in Africa and Turkey. He has a BA from Columbia College and an MA from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism in New York, as well as an MA in African Studies and International Economics from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, DC. He has visited more than 40 African countries since 1984, and has published numerous articles on African politics.
Ambassador Laurence D. Wohlers is a retired American diplomat whose career spanned 16 postings in Africa, Europe, Asia, and Washington, D.C. He most recently served as the US Ambassador to the Central African Republic, where he led US government engagement on development assistance, election monitoring, supporting human rights and good governance, and combating the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). He also helped organize a regional forum to foster greater cooperation in the struggle against elephant poaching. In December 2012, he directed the successful evacuation of the American community from CAR as rebel forces marched on the capital.