March 2008 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 February 2008
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AFRICA

Chad/CAR

Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to pay very close attention to developments in Chad and the region as the political-security crisis unfolds. Consultations are possible, especially should the situation deteriorate, but at press time it seemed unlikely that proposals for Council action would emerge in March.

Members await the Secretary-General’s report on the UN Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT), now expected by late March. MINURCAT’s mandate expires on 25 September.

Key Recent Developments
The crisis in Chad reached alarming levels when rebels attacked the capital N’Djamena in early February. Tens of thousands of Chadians fled to Cameroon and Nigeria. Concerns persist about reported abuses against the civilian population, in particular abduction and detention of several opposition leaders and members of civil society organisations, and arrests of journalists.

The crisis increased the risk of acute deterioration in humanitarian conditions in the region. Internal displacement in Chad is growing and the security situation continues to worsen in West Darfur.

The possibility exists of a further influx of refugees into Chad from West Darfur, where they fled from persisting attacks, and from Chad into the Central African Republic (CAR), where insecurity and banditry continues. Some 197,000 persons are internally displaced in the CAR. There are also 98,000 CAR refugees in Chad and Cameroon. An estimated 8,000 refugees poured across the border from Darfur to Chad in the week of 10 February alone, media reports say.

The violence has prevented many relief workers from reaching those in need. Some personnel have been evacuated and airlifts may be halted. Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes expressed concern for the fate of an estimated 500,000 people in Chad in need of humanitarian assistance.

Following rebel attacks, deployment of the EU force for Chad and the CAR (EUFOR) was temporarily suspended.

There are persistent reports of mutual assistance to rebels by Chad and Sudan.

Chadian rebels have accused France of aiding Chadian President Idriss Déby militarily. Paris has denied any combat role, stating that its military support is limited to training, healthcare and intelligence under a bilateral accord. This has particular significance as media reports suggested that the bilateral arrangements might not have been sufficient to allow significant assistance to the Chadian government.

The AU Assembly adopted a decision stressing that “no authority that comes to power by force will be recognised by the AU” and mandating Libya and the Republic of Congo to initiate mediation efforts.

France called for weekend Council consultations on 3 February, followed by a Secretariat briefing on Chad. France introduced a draft presidential statement with a Council endorsement of international military assistance to the Chadian government.

This draft triggered concern from most members about its use of the words “all necessary means,” commonly used in resolutions authorising force, and about the absence of a formal Chadian request for support.

Chad subsequently sent a letter requesting assistance to “end this aggression.” Some members then became concerned with the possible regional implications of the word “aggression” in the request and about the use of force against Sudan. Compromise was then found in de-linking Council support for assistance from the Chadian request and including a mention to the Charter.

On 4 February, the Council adopted a statement in which it:

  • supported the 2 February AU decision strongly condemning the attacks, demanding an immediate end to violence and calling on “all the countries of the region” to respect “the unity and territorial integrity” of “the Member States of the African Union;”
  • welcomed the AU decision to mandate Libya and Congo to initiate mediation efforts;
  • urged “states in the region” to abide fully by obligations toward common borders, in particular the Tripoli, Riyadh and Sirte agreements (signed between Sudan and Chad); and
  • called upon members to “provide support, in conformity with the United Nations Charter, as requested by the Government of Chad.”

Following the presidential statement, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that there was now a unanimous Council decision and France would have the means to respond if Chad were attacked.

Hostilities seemed to ebb around 5 February. Salah Gosh, head of Sudanese intelligence, was reported to have said that Sudan had been cooperating with the Libyan-Congolese mediation efforts, having convinced the Chadian opposition to withdraw. Tensions between Chad and Sudan persist.

On 12 February, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Victor da Silva Ângelo, said that a political process is needed, including respect for borders. At press time, it seemed that he may arrive in Chad in the next weeks, and might look for a low-key support role vis-à-vis political reconciliation in Chad.

Calls for dialogue and a peaceful solution were echoed in an EU Council decision on 18 February. The decision also recalled “full support to the 13 August 2007 Political Agreement” with “almost all political parties belonging to the legal opposition,” and considered it “the cornerstone of a broader road map leading to legislative elections in 2009.”

There is increasing concern about Chadian rebels associating French assistance to the government with the role of EUFOR and MINURCAT and related perceptions of lack of neutrality.

At a Council briefing on 26 February, the Chadian foreign minister apparently reiterated N’Djamena’s focus on international pressure on Sudan to stop supporting rebels and implement bilateral agreements. Members raised concerns about the fate of opposition leaders.

EUFOR difficulties with the generation of assets and troops continued in the meanwhile. Matters seem to have been resolved at least for the initial stages of deployment, particularly after France assumed the lead on logistics in mid-January.

EUFOR’s deployment resumed in mid-February. Initial operational capability is expected by well into March, and full capability in May before the rainy season.

The mission plans high visibility operations including mobile patrolling and quick reaction force interventions. It seems the force will not block rebel advances unless civilians are in danger, and will operate in co-location with MINURCAT.

Options
Options for the Council include:

  • continuing the wait-and-see approach;
  • actively managing the challenges facing MINURCAT and the EU force by considering a mandate for MINURCAT on political reconciliation in Chad, perhaps including support for the Libyan-Congolese mediation and coordination with the AU;
  • actively monitoring the domestic political process in Chad closely by holding meetings with concerned member states, the Libyan-Congolese mediators and the AU;
  • mandating MINURCAT to play a liaison role with the all parties in Chad as a way of preserving neutrality of UN and EU deployments; and
  • encouraging talks between Sudan and Chad by requesting the Secretary-General to approach regional states and the AU to discuss the current situation and future prospects for improving Sudanese-Chadian relations.

Key Issues
The key issue is whether and how to become more involved in supporting political reconciliation in Chad as well as between Sudan and Chad. Related issues include:

  • the continuing destabilisation in Chad and N’Djamena’s security needs;
  • the potential for further deterioration of Chad-Sudan relations and a regionalised conflict;
  • humanitarian conditions;
  • challenges of all-inclusive political reconciliation in Chad, and whether and when to consider a more active Council involvement;
  • security risks for MINURCAT and EUFOR if they are perceived as taking sides and as a result are dragged into the conflict;
  • managing the complexities of coordinating simultaneous deployments in Chad and Darfur; and
  • operational challenges for the EU and UN deployments, including assets, logistics, environment and management, as well as political and security developments in Darfur.

Council Dynamics
Until recently, members seemed primarily focused on the crisis in Darfur. The focus was on how best to protect civilians and contain the spill-over from the Darfur conflict rather than political dynamics regarding conflicts in Chad and the CAR.

But recent developments in Chad have rekindled concerns about military and political domestic strife, implications for the humanitarian situation and rebel perceptions of MINURCAT and EUFOR. It seems that some EU members have expressed strong concern about this and appear to have pressed it with France in the context of French military support to the Chadian government.

Members appear to have acquiesced around a regional approach to the Chadian crisis, having expressed support for the Libyan-Congolese efforts. It seems unlikely that France and Libya will be ready for the UN to assume a stronger political role. This approach seems to have found support from some members that are sympathetic to the Chadian government’s apparent preference for regional mediation. But it remains to be seen whether there is scope for the Council and the UN to take a more limited, but nevertheless active role.

Similarly, there is acute awareness of the wider links among Sudan, Chad and rebel groups as well as the potential for further spiralling of the regional crisis. France in particular appears strongly concerned with future prospects for the Chadian government. Most so far seem to have leaned towards a more cautious approach emphasising the role of regional neighbours in improving the border situation.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolution

  • S/RES/1778 (25 September 2007) established MINURCAT and authorised the EU protection force.

Selected Presidential Statement

  • S/PRST/2008/3 (4 February 2008) contained an expression of support to external military assistance to the Chadian government.

Selected Secretary-General’s Reports

  • S/2008/98 (14 February 2008) was the latest Darfur report.
  • S/2007/739 (17 December 2007) was the latest Secretary-General’s report on MINURCAT.
  • S/2007/697 (5 December 2007) was the latest BONUCA report.

Other

  • S/2008/69 (4 February 2008) was a Chadian letter requesting aid and assistance from all states and the Council’s support in that regard.
  • S/2007/702 (28 November 2007) and S/2007/703 (3 December 2007) renewed the BONUCA mandate.

Other Relevant Facts

MINURCAT: Special Representative of the Secretary-General

Victor da Silva Ângelo (Portugal)

MINURCAT: Size, Composition and Cost

  • Authorised strength: up to 300 police and fifty military liaison officers
  • Strength as of 31 January 2008: 52 police and seven military observers
  • Main police contributors: Côte d’Ivoire, France, Mali, Egypt, and Yemen
  • Cost: approved budget 1 July 2007–30 June 2008: $182.44 million

MINURCAT: Duration

September 2007 to present; mandate expires 25 September 2008

EU Force: Size, Composition and Cost

  • Expected strength: 3,700 troops and 600 on reserve.
  • Expected main contributors: France, Ireland, Poland, Sweden and Finland
  • Cost: EUR 119.6 million

EU Force: Duration

Term will start once the EU command declares that initial operational capability is in place.

BONUCA: Special Representative of the Secretary-General

François Lonseny Fall (Guinea)

BONUCA: Size

Strength as of 31 October 2007: 27 international staff, five military advisors, six police

BONUCA: Duration

15 February 2000 to present; mandate expires 31 December 2007

FOMUC: Size and Composition

  • Current strength: 500 troops
  • Contributors: Gabon, Republic of Congo and Chad

FOMUC: Duration

October 2002 to present; mandate expires 31 December 2009

 

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