Central African Republic
Expected Council Action
In April, Special Representative Parfait Onanga-Anyanga will brief on the forthcoming report on the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). The Council will renew MINUSCA, which expires on 30 April, probably extending the mandate only through July, to allow more time to adapt the mandate to the post-transition situation.
Key Recent Developments
March marked the end of the transitional political government in the Central African Republic (CAR), which began in April 2013 and was initially due to expire after 18 months.
On 1 March, the Constitutional Court confirmed that former Prime Minister Faustin Archange Touadéra was elected president after winning a runoff election on 14 February against Anicet-Georges Dologuélé. Dologuélé, who led the first round of voting on 30 December 2015, conceded the election an hour after the results were announced.
The results of legislative elections held on 30 December 2015 were nullified by the transitional constitutional court on 27 January because of massive irregularities. A first round of new legislative elections for the National Assembly took place on 14 February, and at press time, a second round was scheduled for 27 March. The new government and National Assembly are supposed to be confirmed by the end of April.
The UN, AU, Economic Community of Central African States, and the EU welcomed the final results of the presidential election on 4 March. They further reiterated their commitment to continued efforts to support the completion of the transition period, including through the holding of the second round of legislative elections.
The proper conduct of the elections was a matter of disagreement between Council members in January during the negotiations over resolution 2262 which renewed the CAR sanctions regime. Council members were unable to agree on whether to commend the conduct of the elections or simply take note of them. A compromise was found by avoiding both options and instead focusing on the forthcoming conduct of free and fair legislative elections and the second round of the presidential elections.
A similar disagreement occurred during negotiations of a draft press statement circulated by France on 14 December 2015 over whether to welcome or take note of the constitutional referendum. In that case, however, a compromise was not possible, and the press statement was eventually abandoned.
The new president will face many issues, including the fact that Muslim-dominated ex-Séléka and Christian anti-Balaka factions still control vast parts of the country, and some of their elements have been unwilling to engage in dialogue with transitional authorities. Disarming and reintegrating these elements while holding perpetrators of crimes accountable will be a key priority. Reviving defunct state institutions and addressing the high levels of poverty and needs for humanitarian assistance are also immediate tasks for the new government.
On the issue of sexual exploitation and abuse, the 2015 annual Secretary-General’s report on this issue identified 22 allegations specific to UN peacekeepers in MINUSCA. By the end of February 2016, the UN’s conduct and discipline unit registered 22 new allegations against personnel of MINUSCA, which was the only mission explicitly mentioned in resolution 2272 of 11 March 2016 on sexual exploitation and abuse. In January the Democratic Republic of the Congo contingent to MINUSCA was repatriated.
On 31 March, Under-Secretary-General for Field Support Atul Khare briefed Council members under “any other business” on further allegations of sexual misconduct by international forces in the CAR.
On 17 March, Council members discussed the MINUSCA mandate renewal under “any other business”. France proposed to extend MINUSCA’s current mandate until the end of July in a technical rollover. France reasoned that this would allow time for consultations between MINUSCA and the incoming government on adapting the mission’s mandate to the post-transition period. It would also allow time for a strategic review of MINUSCA to inform Council members’ deliberations on a new mandate.
At the request of the Secretary-General, the Council adopted resolution 2264 on 9 February to increase the number of corrections officers in MINUSCA from 40 to 108.
Resolution 2262 renewed the arms embargo, travel ban and assets freeze until 31 January 2017 and the mandate of the Panel of Experts until 28 February 2017. The Panel will be asked to submit its midterm report to the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee on 30 July 2016 and a final report to the Security Council, after discussion with the Committee, by 31 December 2016.
On 7 March, at the request of France, the UK and the US, the 2127 Committee added the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and its leader, Joseph Kony, for whom there is an outstanding ICC arrest warrant, to the CAR sanctions list. According to the 2127 Committee, the LRA under Kony’s leadership has engaged in the abduction, killing and mutilation of thousands of civilians across Central Africa, including in the CAR.
The Committee held a meeting on 9 March with Onanga-Anyanga (via video teleconference from Bangui) and a representative of the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) to discuss the sanctions-monitoring mandate of MINUSCA and the role of UNMAS in the management of weapons and ammunition in the CAR.
On 18 March, the 2127 Committee met with its Panel of Experts to discuss their tentative programme of work for the next year.
Human Rights-Related Developments
The independent expert on the situation of human rights in the CAR, Marie-Thérèse Keita Bocoum, visited the country from 1 to 10 March and released a statement on 11 March commending the holding of elections and the improving security situation. She warned that the situation remains precarious, with pockets of insecurity and violence, particularly in inland regions. The statement encouraged the government to continue focusing on the immediate implementation of the disarmament, demobilisation, reintegration and repatriation agreement; security sector reform; improving prison conditions; and the fight against impunity.
Renewing MINUSCA’s mandate will be an immediate task for the Council in April.
With the end of the transition period, monitoring the security situation and political developments closely and reconfiguring MINUSCA’s mandate accordingly will be an ongoing issue.
Adapting the mandate to take into account the expected reduction or complete draw down of troops in the French parallel force assisting stabilisation efforts in Bangui is a related issue.
The most likely option is for the Council to adopt a short-term renewal of MINUSCA’s current mandate that will allow for the new CAR government to be up and running before full consideration of MINUSCA’s mandate. Such a resolution may also ask for a strategic review of the MINUSCA mandate and a report back to the Council after consultations with the CAR authorities.
Another option is to renew MINUSCA’s mandate for a year while adjusting the mandate in order to take into account the pending formation of a new government and the end of the transition period.
Council and Wider Dynamics
It seems that several Council members take a positive view of the French proposal of a technical rollover, feeling that it will allow for a more thorough assessment as to what adjustments to MINUSCA’s mandate are necessary after the elections and how its tasks and priorities for the short, middle and long term should be configured. For some Council members, an important aspect in consultations with the new government will be its attitude towards some of MINUSCA’s existing tasks that were based on the request of the transitional authorities, such as its mandate to undertake “urgent temporary measures on an exceptional basis…to arrest and detain in order to maintain basic law and order and fight impunity”.
Despite a difference of views concerning the conduct of the elections, all Council members are hoping that the end of the transition period and a newly elected government will provide momentum to address some of the fundamental issues facing the country, including constructive dialogue with armed groups and their disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration and, later on, security sector reform programs, accountability measures and re-establishing state authority and institutions, including incarceration facilities and judicial institutions.
UN Documents on the CAR
|Security Council Resolutions|
|9 February 2016 S/RES/2264||This was a resolution to increase the number of corrections officers in MINUSCA from 40 to 108.|
|27 January 2016 S/RES/2262||This resolution renewed the CAR sanctions regime until 31 January 2017.|
|Sanctions Committee Documents|
|14 March 2016 SC/12281||This was a press release on the CAR Sanctions Committee’s meeting with the head of MINUSCA, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga (via video teleconference from Bangui), and a representative of UNMAS.|
|7 March 2016 SC/12272||This was a press release announcing the addition of the LRA and Joseph Kony to the CAR sanctions list.|
|21 December 2015 S/2015/936||This was the final report of the 2127 Sanctions Committee’s Panel of Experts.|
|Security Council Press Statement|
|11 November 2015 SC/12116||This press statement condemned attacks on IDPs and MINUSCA peacekeepers.|