September 2008 Monthly Forecast

Posted 27 August 2008
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AFRICA

Chad/MINURCAT

Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to renew the mandate of the UN Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT), which expires on 25 September.

An important aspect of discussions is likely to be the issue of future arrangements for a military presence in Chad after March 2009, when the mandate of the EU Force in the region (EUFOR) expires. The EU has already indicated that its preference for EUFOR’s mandate not to be renewed beyond March in line with the prior understanding behind resolution 1778, which authorised EUFOR. There is therefore strong interest among Council members and within the Secretariat in reaching a quick decision so as to allow for timely troop generation and in order to avoid a security vacuum.

A report of the Secretary-General on MINURCAT is due and is expected to include options and recommendations with respect to both issues. Another report, from the EU on EUFOR’s activities, is also due.

It seems that agreement within the Council on a post-EUFOR arrangement, perhaps with the force’s re-hatting under MINURCAT, is achievable. An important factor, however, will be prior agreement from the Chadian government.

Members are also acutely aware of the unresolved issues regarding political reconciliation in Chad. It is unclear whether there will be a demand for a specific political reconciliation role for MINURCAT in the mandate.

Key Recent Developments
The humanitarian and security situation in Chad and the region remain extremely precarious. Civilians and humanitarian workers continue to face great challenges from attacks, militia infiltration in camps, banditry, lawlessness and impunity, gender-based violence and the recruitment of children. There are concerns about a renewed rebel offensive once the rainy season ends in September.

No progress was made on political reconciliation in Chad. The EU-sponsored Inter-Chadian Agreement of 13 August 2007 between the government and the political opposition has not been implemented, nor has the Libyan-sponsored Sirte Agreement of 25 October 2007 between the government and major rebel groups. (The Inter-Chadian Agreement provides for a census, amendments to the electoral law and voter registration with a view to elections in 2009. Rebels pulled out of the Sirte Agreement and have refused to lay down arms.)

Chadian civil society groups have apparently denounced President Idriss Déby’s resistance to initiating a meaningful national dialogue. Those groups, it seems, perceive Déby’s strategy as being one of dividing the opposition by offering government posts while resisting broader institutional reforms. They have reportedly urged that priority be given to addressing the armed conflict, and have criticised the Inter-Chadian Agreement for excluding civil society and being limited to elections. But some observers have apparently voiced concern about rebels’ trustworthiness given their lack of a clear political agenda, and their refusal to lay down arms.

Sudan and Chad recently agreed to restore diplomatic relations. Media reports say that this is in the context of another Libyan-sponsored peace plan, and that a summit to formalise it may be in the works. The AU-sponsored Dakar Agreement Contact Group, established with respect to the 13 March agreement between Chad and Sudan, also held talks on the establishment of a border monitoring force, expected to include 200 monitors from Contact Group members (which include the Republic of Congo, Gabon, Libya, Eritrea and Senegal) plus 1,000 from Sudan and Chad each. A new meeting of the Contact Group is currently scheduled for 26 August in Eritrea.

Tensions between Chad and Sudan continue, however, with persistent reports of the two countries providing support to each others’ rebel groups. There is also a perception that the prospects of deploying a credible border monitoring mission may be very low (given unfulfilled similar commitments from the 2006 Tripoli Agreement between Chad and Sudan).

Progress with deploying MINURCAT and EUFOR has also been slow, which appears to be due to logistical challenges, as well as issues of generating troops and assets. As of July, EUFOR’s troop strength stood at 3,200 (out of 3,700 planned). Agreement was reached with non-EU members Russia and Albania for the provision of troops and equipment. Talks were also being held with Croatia and Ukraine. Some progress has reportedly been made with MINURCAT’s training of Chadian gendarmerie (the Détachement intégré de sécurité, or DIS) for security in camps in eastern Chad. Out of planned 850 gendarmes, 270 had reportedly completed the training programme as of early August.

In his July report on MINURCAT, the Secretary-General warned that “EUFOR and MINURCAT are not in a position to directly address the problem of cross-border movement by armed groups. Furthermore, the mandates of MINURCAT and EUFOR limit the role of the two missions to addressing only the consequences and not the issues underlying the conflict in Chad. Unless these fundamental issues are addressed, and in the absence of a viable dialogue between the Government and all opposition groups, the resources invested by the international community in Chad risk being wasted.”

On 25 June, the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC, of which Chad is a member) adopted a communiqué urging a role for MINURCAT, EUFOR and the UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) on border security. (This may signal a change in Chad’s position, and raises questions vis-à-vis the Dakar Agreement border force.)

In late June-early July, a joint EU-UN mission visited the region to provide recommendations on arrangements for an international military presence post-March 2009, when EUFOR expires. During the trip, the Chadian government apparently requested that the number of DIS gendarmes be increased from 850 to 1,700.

In a 22 July document, the EU Council again urged that, after duly consulting the Chadian and Central African authorities, “all steps be taken to ensure that arrangements for following up the EU’s operation are put in place, with the possible inclusion of a United Nations operation.”

The Secretariat and the EU are currently working on future peacekeeping options, including re-hatting EUFOR as a component of MINURCAT. There is a strong interest in moving quickly so as to avoid a security vacuum after the departure of EUFOR. Some EUFOR contributors have already indicated interest in continuing under MINURCAT, and the Secretariat is currently in talks with other potential contributors.

On 7-8 August, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of MINURCAT, Victor da Silva Ângelo, convened a two-day roundtable in Stockholm to take stock of the deployment of MINURCAT and EUFOR ahead of Council discussions on the issue in September. Participants included the Chadian government, the UN, the EU, the AU, the Council’s permanent members and Libya.

There seem to be plans for some Secretariat officials to travel to Chad to discuss future peacekeeping options, but as of this writing no date had apparently been scheduled yet. At press time, it seemed unlikely that the recommendations to the Council would include a strong political reconciliation mandate for MINURCAT in Chad, given the government’s apparent opposition.

Options
The first set of options is for the Council to:

  • renew MINURCAT, while perhaps supporting the increase in the number of Chadian DIS gendarmes from 850 to 1,700; and
  • authorise a post-EUFOR military protection arrangement as a UN peacekeeping operation with generation of new contingents to proceed as quickly as possible, with EUFOR personnel to remain in a transitional role. A further option would be to re-hat EUFOR as a military component of MINURCAT.

This first set of options could address uncertainties about the security presence in eastern Chad. But it is based on the assumption that the fragile situation in Chad and threats to civilians are primarily due to the conflict in Darfur, and that current regional and international efforts for political reconciliation in Chad and between Chad and Sudan will yield tangible results. It carries the risk that, should those efforts make no progress, MINURCAT and the post-EUFOR arrangement would be left in a difficult ongoing situation without a credible exit strategy.

A second option is for the Council to renew MINURCAT, reach an early agreement on a post-EUFOR arrangement and:

  • acknowledge that the conflict in Chad and the region is also a result of domestic political instability;
  • establish an expanded mandate for MINURCAT vis-à-vis political reconciliation in Chad with a view to a credible ceasefire and all-inclusive national dialogue;
  • include in the mandate support for and assistance in the implementation of the Inter-Chadian and Sirte Agreements; and
  • request MINURCAT to coordinate and liaise with the Dakar Agreement Contact Group, with a view to establishing a credible border-monitoring mechanism.

A third option, in the event of government opposition to a UN role in political reconciliation in Chad, is for the Council to:

  • demand implementation of the existing agreements;
  • encourage regional players to play a more proactive role in re-energising talks between the Chadian government and rebels; and
  • request MINURCAT to liaise and actively support the EU, the AU, Libya and the Dakar Agreement Contact Group in the implementation of the agreements, and call on all concerned parties to cooperate with MINURCAT.

A related option is for Council members to consider a range of measures to contain the conflict in Chad and encourage implementation of existing agreements, including an arms embargo and targeted measures against peace spoilers. 

Key Issues

The key issue for the Council is the immediate need to secure a follow-on security presence once EUFOR’s mandate ends.

An ongoing question has been whether the political instability in Chad should be recognised as a problem in its own right, and whether the Council should be involved in encouraging a solution. This raises a number of related issues, including:

  • the need for an all-inclusive national dialogue;
  • whether to set preconditions to rebel participation, including that they lay down arms; and
  • whether the Council and MINURCAT should become involved in that respect.

The underlying issues include:

  • the lack of a credible exit strategy for MINURCAT and EUFOR’s follow-on presence;
  • security risks if peacekeepers are dragged into the conflict especially in the absence of a political reconciliation component in the mandate; and
  • the proxy war between Chad and Sudan, and the need for credible border monitoring.

Council and Wider Dynamics
There is real awareness in the Council of the fragility of the situation in the region and within Chad. Members are conscious of the interconnectedness of the conflicts in Sudan and Chad, and the support that each country has rendered for the other’s rebel groups. There also seems to be a perception within the Council, particularly from EU members, that the current peacemaking efforts in Darfur are unlikely to yield tangible results.

Council members appear to agree that, given the likely security situation and the EU’s intention to end its EUFOR mandate in March, there needs to be a follow-on security presence but this would need the consent of the Chadian government. Within the EU, there also seems to be a particular concern with the need for a meaningful response to the problem of banditry and lawlessness, and the related need to speed up MINURCAT’s deployment and training for Chadian gendarmerie.

Because of the government’s previous reluctance about a UN role in political reconciliation in Chad, the current wait-and-see approach has had some support particularly from France and Libya. Some argue that rebels should lay down arms as a precondition for talks. Others, however, point out to the fact that this policy has not been the case in peacemaking efforts in Darfur.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolution

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

Selected Security Council Presidential Statements

  • S/PRST/2008/22 (16 June 2008) was a statement on the June rebel offensive in Chad.
  • S/PRST/2008/15 (13 May 2008) condemned a Darfur rebel attack near Khartoum.
  • S/PRST/2008/3 (4 February 2008) contained an expression of support for external military assistance to the Chadian government.

Latest Secretary-General’s Reports

  • S/2008/532 (7 August 2008) was a report on children and armed conflict in Chad.
  • S/2008/444 (8 July 2008) was the most recent MINURCAT report.
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 50 military liaison officers
  • Strength as of 31 July 2008: 200 police and 33 military observers
  • Main police contributors: Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and France
  • Cost: approved budget 1 July 2008–30 June 2009: $315 million

MINURCAT: Duration

September 2007 to present; mandate expires on 25 September 2008

EU Force: Size, Composition and Cost

  • Expected strength: 3,700 troops and 600 on reserve
  • Strength as of July 2008: 3,247 troops
  • Main contributors: France (1,671), Ireland (408), Poland (299), Austria (177) and Sweden (174)
  • Cost: €119.6 million

EU Force: Duration

17 March 2008 to present; mandate expires on 17 March 2009

Useful Additional Source

  • 25 June 2008 CEMAC Communiqué

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