December 2008 Monthly Forecast

Posted 26 November 2008
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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 December and renew the mandate of the UN Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BONUCA) by 31 December. Depending on the recommendations from the Secretary-General, whose report was expected by 30 November, the Council could agree to BONUCA becoming an integrated mission to coordinate the multidimensional aspects of the UN’s activities to confront peacebuilding challenges in the country. The renewal of the mandate is usually done through an exchange of letters between the Secretary-General and the president of the Council. (The Council is also expected to deal with CAR in the context of considering a UN military component to follow on the current EU operation in eastern Chad and north-east CAR (EUFOR Chad/CAR) after its mandate expires on 15 March. See our brief on this issue in this Forecast.)

Key Recent Developments
Peace in CAR has remained fragile over the past months. In May the government signed a separate peace agreement with the rebel APRD (Armée pour la restauration de la république et la démocratie) in Libreville, Gabon. A comprehensive peace accord was signed in CAR on 21 June between the government and the rebel groups of APRD and UFDR (Union des forces démocratiques pour le rassemblement), following talks in Libreville facilitated by Gabonese President Omar Bongo.

On 27 June the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in CAR, François Lonsény Fall, briefed the Council in private consultations on the Secretary-General’s report on BONUCA, issued on 23 June. In a subsequent press release the Council welcomed the peace agreement reached between CAR authorities and the UFDR and APRD rebel groups and said the accord needed to be fully implemented as part of efforts to bring peace to CAR. The Council called on other rebel groups in CAR to reach peace deals with the government and cautioned that the political, economic and humanitarian situation remained fragile, despite the peace agreement. It welcomed the placement of CAR on the agenda of the UN Peacebuilding Commission in June.

In early August the APRD withdrew from the comprehensive agreement, together with other armed groups and opposition groups, over aspects of an amnesty law. The originally planned date for the opening of the all inclusive political dialogue in June was postponed pending agreement on amnesty provisions for rebels and plans for their eventual demobilisation and reintegration. At press time, reports indicated that some form of agreement had been reached between the opposing groups with respect to the amnesty law and disarmament programme, which created a possibility for the inclusive political dialogue to be held in December.

On 12 July the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa transferred operational responsibilities of its multinational force (FOMUC, which was established in 2002) to the Economic Community of Central African States, to operate the subregional force under the name Mission for the Consolidation of Peace, or MICOPAX. In addition to having combat troops, police and gendarmes, MICOPAX has incorporated a civilian branch to help revive political dialogue, and is expected to become fully operational in January 2009.

In late October a UN interagency mission undertook a week-long visit to CAR to study improving coordination and coherence of the UN actors in the country. The assessment team was expected to draft recommendations following its visit for the Council on how to integrate UN activities in CAR.

Developments in the Peacebuilding Commission
On 12 June the Organisational Committee of the PBC placed CAR on the Commission’s agenda. Belgium was elected chair of the country-specific configuration set up for CAR. Belgian Ambassador Jan Grauls subsequently undertook an exploratory visit in July to meet national authorities, explain the work of the PBC, identify the country’s peacebuilding priorities and meet representatives of civil society and international organisations.

In October the PBC country-specific configuration for CAR formally adopted its peacebuilding priorities (including security sector reform, the rule of law and good governance). Subsequently, work has been largely concentrated on drawing up an integrated peacebuilding framework for CAR. A framework may be adopted by February 2009 (that is, once an inclusive political dialogue is held in CAR).

Beginning 5 November, Ambassador Grauls led a ten-member PBC mission to CAR, focusing on interaction with the government and stakeholders on CAR’s peacebuilding priorities and challenges, and the nature and scope of international support the country would require.

Key Issues
The key issue for the Council relates to renewing BONUCA’s mandate. Closely related is the issue of possibly transforming BONUCA into an integrated mission to effectively coordinate activities of UN agencies and UN general presence in CAR, now that the country is on the agenda of the PBC.

Options
Options for the Council include:

  • simply renewing the mandate of BONUCA and postponing the wider issue of transforming BONUCA to a later date (perhaps in two to three months once there is greater clarity regarding the sustainability of the all inclusive political dialogue); or
  • renewing the mandate of BONUCA in December with provisions to transform it into an integrated mission.

Council Dynamics
The question of whether and when Council members will decide on converting BONUCA into an integrated mission, coordinating the multidimensional aspects of the UN’s peacebuilding activities, remains open as members await the Secretary-General’s report (due at press time on 30 November). Council members generally seem comfortable with renewing the mandate in view of the ongoing peace consolidation needs of CAR.

Underlying Problems
High levels of poverty and unemployment heightened by arrears in salaries of civil servants and military personnel in CAR, along with poorly motivated state security forces, banditry, the proliferation of small arms and relative impunity present threats to peace and security in the country.

UN Documents

Latest Secretary-General’s Report

  • S/2008/410 (23 June 2008) was the latest BONUCA report.

Relevant Letters

  • S/2007/702 (28 November 2007) and S/2007/703 (3 December 2007) was the exchange of letters between the Secretary-General and the president of the Council that extended the mandate of BONUCA until 31 December 2008.

PBC Related Documents

  • PBC/3/OC/5 (30 June 2008) was the letter from the acting chair of the PBC to the president of the Security Council informing him of the composition of the country configuration for CAR.
  • A/63/92-S/2008/417 (24 June 2008) was the report if the PBC on its second session.
  • A/62/889-S/2008/419 (17 June 2008) was the letter from the chair of the PBC to the president of the Security Council informing him of the addition of the Central African Republic on the agenda of the PBC.
  • A/62/864-S/2008/383 (30 May 2008) was the letter from the president of the Council to the chair of the PBC supporting the request by CAR to be placed on the agenda of the PBC and requesting advice and recommendations on the situation in the country.

Other Relevant Facts

CAR: Special Representative of the Secretary-General

François Lonseny Fall (Guinea)

BONUCA: Size

Strength as of October 2008: 26 international civilian staff, five military and six police

BONUCA: Duration

15 February 2000 to present; mandate expires 31 December 2008

Full forecast