May 2013 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 May 2013
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AFRICA

Central African Republic

Expected Council Action

In May, the Security Council expects a briefing by Margaret Vogt, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA), followed by consultations on the latest Secretary-General’s report on BINUCA. The report, originally due 31 March, was postponed until 30 April to take into account recent developments.

A resolution amending BINUCA’s mandate, which expires on 31 January 2014, is possible.

Key Recent Developments

Agreements between the Central African Republic (CAR) and the Séléka rebels (an alliance formed by factions of the Convention des Patriotes pour la Justice et la Paix, the Union des Forces Démocratiques pour le Rassemblement and the Convention Patriotique pour le Salut du Kodro) were reached on 11 January in Libreville. In mid-March, the Séléka renewed fighting claiming that the government had not fulfilled its promises under the agreements. Under the 11 January agreements President François Bozizé would remain in power until the end of his term in 2016, and a government of national unity—in which opposition leaders were to be given key posts—would be formed to implement reforms and hold parliamentary elections within 12 months. The rebels seized Bangui on 24 March, forcing President Bozizé to flee to Cameroon and BINUCA to evacuate most of its staff.

The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) held a summit on 3 April in N’Djamena, Chad, to discuss the CAR. The summit did not recognise Séléka leader and self-appointed interim President Michel Djotodia, but allowed Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye—appointed on 17 January in the aftermath of the Libreville agreements and subsequently designated by Djotodia to head an interim government—to attend on behalf of the CAR. The ECCAS summit called for the creation of a Transitional National Council (TNC) tasked with drafting a new constitution, preparing for elections within 18 months, and electing an interim president who would be forbidden to run in the ensuing presidential elections. According to media reports, Djotodia accepted the ECCAS framework.

Vogt briefed the Council in consultations via video-teleconference on 9 April. She told the Council that the political and security situations remained highly volatile and the humanitarian situation was dire. Vogt emphasised that the Libreville agreements were key to restoring order in the country.

On 13 April, at its first session, the TNC elected Djotodia as interim president. (Djotodia was the only candidate in the vote.)

Another ECCAS summit was held in N’Djamena on 18 April with its final communiqué reiterating that the transition period remains fixed, pending free elections. ECCAS expressed its support for the ongoing political transitions in the CAR and for Tiangaye, who is to form a transitional government after wide consultations in accordance with the Libreville agreements. ECCAS further emphasised that in addition to the interim president, government ministers and TNC members could not participate in the elections. ECCAS also declared it would deploy 2,000 additional troops to its Mission for the Consolidation of Peace in the CAR (MICOPAX) to assist in stabilising the situation.

On 25 April, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, issued a statement expressing alarm about the use of child soldiers by the Séléka, indicating that “boys, uniformed and armed, have been seen patrolling, manning checkpoints and participating in looting activities across the country”.

The Council was briefed in consultations on the security, political and humanitarian situation by the Under Secretary General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman on 29 April, after his recent visit to Cameroon and CAR, where he met with Tiangaye, representatives of political parties and civil society and Vogt. In his meeting with Tiangaye on 20 April, Feltman, expressed the Secretary-General’s “deep concern over the alarming situation regarding security and human rights in the country, and the lack of public order and the rule of law”. After consultations, Council members adopted a press statement (SC/10993) calling for the quick implementation of the ECCAS framework and expressing its concern of human rights violations in CAR.

Human Rights-Related Developments

On 12 April, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said more than 2,000 children have been recruited by armed forces in the CAR since December 2012.  Also according to UNICEF, 1.2 million people have been cut off from essential services. According to the UN High Commission for Refugees, 37,000 refugees have fled the country since December. In addition, some 173,000 people have been internally displaced over the last four months.

In a 16 April statement, the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, expressed alarm at continuing reports of widespread human rights violations in the CAR—including targeted killings, arbitrary arrests, torture, child recruitment, rapes, disappearances and kidnappings—since the December Sélékaoffensive. Pillay called for the rule of law to be restored and perpetrators of abuses to be held accountable.  

Key Issues

The key issue for the Council is to play a more effective and assertive role, especially as the security and humanitarian situations remain volatile.

Achieving synergy with subregional and regional actors in addressing the aftermath of the seizure of power by the Séléka is a related issue.

Another issue is finding a productive role for BINUCA in the new political reality and in light of the ongoing transitional process.

Options

The Council may consider the following regarding BINUCA:

  • amending its mandate following receipt of the Secretary-General’s report;
  • entrusting it with a more central role in mediating between the parties; and
  • expanding its supporting role for the regional efforts of ECCAS.

Further options include adopting a strong position on security and humanitarian issues, expressing support for the deployment of additional MICOPAX troops and taking a more aggressive stance towards the Séléka leadership.

Council Dynamics

The Council has remained fairly passive in recent months regarding the CAR, giving preference to the situations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mali. It has for the most part addressed the crisis in the CAR through press statements.

While no major discussions have taken place on the failure of the 11 January Libreville agreements to achieve stability, Council members are of the view that BINUCA will have to be re-evaluated for the UN presence—and the Council—to be relevant in efforts to solve the crisis in the CAR. Some members think that BINUCA’s mediation role should be fine tuned to reflect recent events and the transitional processes, but still within the framework of the Libreville agreements.

Several Council members are cautious about assigning blame for the crisis and prefer to deplore the situation in general. They feel that in light of the recent ECCAS statements and the apparent Séléka agreement to adhere to the ECCAS transitional framework, the Council should continue to take a back seat to ECCAS on the political front. They feel that the Council should focus on the security and humanitarian situation, rather than the legitimacy of the interim government, as there are signs of splits within the Séléka, which may lead to further instability. Council members will also be interested to hear more about the AU position, which, since suspending the CAR from the AU immediately after the Séléka takeover, has remained silent on the ECCAS initiative.

UN Documents on CAR 

Security Council Resolution
24 January 2013 S/RES/2088 This resolution extended BINUCA for twelve months and requested the Secretary-General to provide a report on the situation on the ground, as well as an assessment of the implementation of the mission’s priorities by 31 March, possibly allowing for an adjustment to the mandate.
Secretary-General’s Report
21 December 2012 S/2012/956 Secretary-General’s report on BINUCA
Security Council Meeting Record
11 January 2013 S/PV.6899 This was a briefing by Margaret Vogt, the Special Representative and head of BINUCA on the Libreville peace talks. The Council also heard from the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Hawa Bangura on her recent visit to the country.
Security Council Press Statements
29 April 2013 SC/10993 This press statement supported political efforts by ECCAS.
25 March 2013 SC/10960 This was a press statement condemning the seizure of power by the Seleka.
22 March 2013 SC/10955 This was a press statement calling for the cessation of hostilities.
20 March 2013 SC/10948 This was a press statement condemning recent attacks by the Seleka and calling on all sides to abide by their respective commitments.
Security Council Letters
4 April 2013 S/2013/216 This was a letter was from the President of the Council to the Secretary-General regarding the postponement of the BINUCA report.
2 April 2013 S/2013/215 This was a letter from the Secretary-General to the President of the Council regarding the postponement of the BINUCA report.
Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of BINUCA 
Margaret Vogt (Nigeria)

BINUCA Size and Composition
Strength as of 28 February 2013: 66 international civilians, 83 local civilians, two military advisers, two police and two UN volunteers

BINUCA Duration
1 January 2010 to present