December 2007 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 November 2007
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AFRICA

Central African Republic

Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to discuss the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) in consultations in early December. Members will likely have in mind the UN Mission in the CAR and Chad (MINURCAT) and the EU protection force.

Formal action is not expected beyond the renewal of the mandate of the UN Peacebuilding Office in the CAR (BONUCA) by 31 December, possibly through a presidential statement. The Secretary-General’s BONUCA report is due in early December, and the MINURCAT report, by 26 December.

Key Recent Developments
The security situation in the CAR continues to be highly fragile, particularly in the northwest and along the border with Chad and Cameroon, where there are about 46,000 refugees—nearly double since August.

The northwestern rebel group Armée populaire pour la restauration de la démocratie (APRD) was apparently willing to negotiate a ceasefire in early October, but no progress seemed forthcoming especially after an attack on 26 November. (Two other groups signed agreements with the government earlier this year.)

Continuing abuse against civilians by government forces and rebels continues to cause concern. Observers note the government’s apparent willingness, but lack of resources, to reform its security sector.

On 26 October, a CAR donors’ roundtable facilitated by the EU further underlined the country’s dire need for development aid. There appear to have been pledges of increased EU assistance, including for security sector reform.

On 25 September, the Council established MINURCAT and authorised the EU protection force in resolution 1778. Both will be focused on civilian protection and needs arising from the spill-over from Darfur into the CAR and Chad, and will not address the domestic conflict in the CAR. BONUCA is expected to continue to lead UN political and assistance activities for the CAR.

France will likely provide half of the EU force, which could be 3,700-strong in total. (The final number of troops to be deployed in the CAR is still unclear.) Shortfalls in troops, logistics and assets, including helicopters, indicate it may not be operational before January.

Concerns remain over whether rebels will perceive the EU force as taking sides, particularly because of the French presence. There is also concern over its ability to protect civilians outside camps and those in danger due to the domestic conflicts in the CAR and Chad, as well as its lack of a mandate to secure borders with Sudan.

Options
Options for the Council include:

  • continuing the wait-and-see approach on peacekeeping developments in the CAR and Chad, at least until the MINURCAT report is issued;
  • renewing BONUCA’s mandate;
  • continuing to signal the need for all-inclusive national reconciliation in the CAR;
  • addressing the insecurity in northwestern CAR by encouraging an increase in FOMUC (the Central African Economic and Monetary Community’s military operation in the CAR, likely to be renewed by 31 December for two years with EU support) and coordination with MINURCAT and the EU force; and

looking actively at options to increase assistance to the CAR government for reforming its security sector, perhaps by strengthening BONUCA’s mandate and resources in that regard.

Key Issues
The key issue for the Council in recent months has been how to improve security in eastern Chad and northeastern CAR and contain the spill-over from Darfur.

A second issue—which has not received the same level of Council attention—is how best to assist the CAR government with wider political reconciliation and peacebuilding tasks. Consequential issues are:

  • the lack of a strong, comprehensive response to the overall political situation and security needs in the CAR, particularly vis-à-vis the armed forces and the situation in the northwest (which seems to have a much larger role in the displacement and attacks against civilians); and
  • the need for coordination among the various international presences in the CAR, including MINURCAT, the EU force, BONUCA and FOMUC.

Council Dynamics
Members appear to be in a wait-and-see mode for the time being as MINURCAT and the EU force are deployed. At press time, it seemed that Council members were reluctant to take up wider aspects of the domestic situation in the CAR beyond general support for the political reconciliation activities of BONUCA. At press time, it was unclear whether there would be new proposals.

Underlying Problems
Containing the domestic conflict in Chad appears to be one element of stabilising the CAR-Chad-Sudan region. In late October, talks under Libyan auspices produced a ceasefire and a peace agreement between the government and four rebel groups.

However, concern over the security situation remains, especially after two rebel groups broke the ceasefire in late November.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolution
  • S/RES/1778 (25 September 2007) established MINURCAT and authorised the EU protection force.
Selected Presidential Statement
Selected Secretary-General’s Reports
  • S/2007/376 (22 June 2007) was the latest CAR report.

Other Relevant Facts

CAR: Special Representative of the Secretary-General
François Lonseny Fall (Guinea)
BONUCA: Size
Strength as of 30 November 2007: 32 international staff, two military and two police
BONUCA: Duration
15 February 2000 to present; mandate expires 31 December 2007
MINURCAT: Size
Authorised strength: up to 300 police and 50 military liaison officers
MINURCAT: Duration
September 2007 to present; mandate expires 25 September 2008
EU Force: Size and Composition
  • Expected strength: 3,700 troops and 600 on reserve.
  • Expected main contributors: France, Ireland, Sweden, Austria and Poland
EU Force: Duration
Term will start once the force is declared operational by the EU command
FOMUC: Size and Composition
  • Current strength: 380 troops
  • Contributors: Gabon, Republic of Congo and Chad
FOMUC: Duration
October 2002 to present; mandate expires 31 December 2007

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