Central African Republic
Expected Council Action
The Council is expecting to receive the semi-annual report on BINUCA in June. At press it was unclear whether they would consider the Secretary-General’s report on CAR in June. It seemed possible that it might be deferred to July.
BINUCA’s mandate expires on 31 December.
Key Recent Developments
The security situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) remains fragile. Banditry, extreme poverty and lack of capacity by defense and security forces and the judiciary continue to impede peace consolidation.
On 31 December 2010 the UN Mission in CAR and Chad (MINURCAT) completed its withdrawal and the handover of its programmes to the governments of Chad and CAR and UN agencies. This has left a security vacuum in northeastern CAR, which has yet to be filled with any sufficient security arrangement.
The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the Ugandan rebel group, continues to perpetrate attacks in CAR. On 13 March the LRA attacked a village in the central mining area of Nzako, killing at least six people, including four CAR soldiers, and abducting between 30 and 50 others. On 18 January the LRA attacked two villages, Agoumar and Madabazouma, in southern CAR, abducting 12 civilians, mostly women.
The Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP), a CAR rebel group, announced a ceasefire on 28 April to enable the opening of negotiations with the government of CAR. CPJP draws most of its support from northeastern and southern CAR and has been behind several anti-government attacks, including election-related violence in February and an attack in the northeastern city of Birao in November 2010, in which six people were killed and several soldiers were captured.
On 23 January, Francois Bozize was re-elected as president of CAR after receiving 66 percent of the vote. The results were widely contested, and the outcome was immediately rejected by three of the five candidates, who called the balloting a “masquerade.” Following calls for redressing electoral irregularities, three electoral commission officials were arrested on 11 February as part of a fraud investigation. Also on 11 February, amid election-related tensions, CAR soldiers clashed with CPJP rebels in eastern CAR, killing seven rebels.
On 19 May, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the appointment of Margaret Vogt of Nigeria as his special representative and head of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA), replacing the outgoing special representative, Sahle-Work Zewde.
On 2 March the UN opened a new political office designed to support Central African nations in their efforts to consolidate peace, prevent conflict and tackle cross-border arms trafficking and organised crime. The UN Regional Office in Central Africa (UNOCA) located in Libreville, Gabon, has an initial mandate of two years and will work closely with the Economic Community of Central African States, composed of Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, CAR, Chad, Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Sao Tome and Principe. UNOCA will give high priority to early warning and early political action as tools for conflict prevention.
On 8 December 2010, Zewde briefed the Council, as did the chair of the CAR configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), Belgian Ambassador Jan Grauls. Grauls said that the integrated strategic framework developed by BINUCA had incorporated the priorities identified by the PBC, which would help further strengthen the cohesion between the PBC, BINUCA and the government. On 14 December, the Council extended the mandate of BINUCA for another 12 months.
A second issue is the threat to stability posed by the LRA and determining how this can best be addressed within the Council’s wider approach to tackling the LRA threat in the subregion.
A third issue is the need for security sector reform and good governance, including establishing rule of law capacity in terms of moving forward with the peacebuilding process.
A second option would be to make a determined effort in the CAR case to build on the thematic conclusion reached by the Council in its debate in February on Security and Development and the need to address root causes. Further integrating its efforts with the PBC Country Specific Configuration would be a related option.
Another option would be to lift the profile of the security situation in the country by issuing a statement.
There continues to be general consensus among Council members on the need to support the peacebuilding process in CAR. But Council members tend to take a wait-and-see perspective on how to address the situation. The Secretary-General’s report and Vogt’s briefing may influence the Council’s next steps.
France is the lead country on this issue in the Council.
Selected Presidential Statement
Council Meeting Record
An uncertain future? Children and armed conflict in the Central African Republic, Internal Displacement Monitoring Center and Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, May 2011