June 2019 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 May 2019
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AFRICA

Central African Republic

Expected Council Action

In June, Mankeur Ndiaye, the Special Representative and head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), will brief the Council on the Secretary-General’s MINUSCA report, due on 15 June. The Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission’s Central African Republic (CAR) configuration, Ambassador Omar Hilale (Morocco), may also brief.

The mandate of MINUSCA expires on 15 November 2019.

Key Recent Developments

The Political Peace Agreement in the CAR was signed by the CAR government and 14 armed groups in Bangui on 6 February, following negotiations in Khartoum that began on 24 January under the auspices of the AU. It addresses justice and reconciliation, governance, and transitional security arrangements. It stipulates that the signatories will establish a commission to review justice issues and submit recommendations to the National Assembly; the Commission of Truth, Justice and Reconciliation; and a follow-up mechanism established to oversee the agreement’s effective implementation. The agreement does not include an amnesty for militia leaders but grants the president a “discretionary right to issue pardons”. Under the agreement, mixed security units will be formed comprising members of the armed groups and state security forces, and members of the former armed groups will be allowed to participate in the government. On 13 February, Council members issued a press statement welcoming the signing of the agreement.

The agreement comes against a backdrop of the inability of the government, led by President Faustin-Archange Touadéra, to establish state authority outside a few urban areas, thus undermining the government’s legitimacy in the eyes of the population. The largely Christian anti-Balaka movement, operating in south-western CAR, has been targeting Muslims. Ex-Séléka armed factions, which are largely Muslim, have retained, if not strengthened, their positions and influence in their respective strongholds and continue to benefit from illicit taxation and illegal exploitation of natural resources.

The agreement faced its first major setback in March, when several armed groups withdrew from Touadéra’s newly formed government, arguing that they were under-represented. On 22 March, after AU-hosted consultations in Addis Ababa, Touadéra announced a new cabinet, in which all 14 armed groups are represented.

On 24 March, a presidential decree named three of the leaders of the armed groups, all suspected of widespread violence, as special military advisers to the prime minister’s office.

On 26 March, Ndiaye briefed the Council under “any other business” on the consultations in Addis Ababa and their results. The Council welcomed the consensus reached by the parties on the formation of an inclusive government in a press statement on 28 March.

This is the latest of several peace agreements that have been signed in the CAR over the years between warring factions, and it remains to be seen if and how it will be implemented. On 5 April, MINUSCA peacekeepers clashed with rebels from the Democratic Front of the Central African People (FDPC), a signatory to the agreement, after the group set up roadblocks on the only road leading to Cameroon. Five FDPC members were killed, and one peacekeeper was injured.

Building on the peace agreement, six armed groups signed a local peace agreement in Bria on 9 April, aiming to end violence in the eastern region of Haute-Kotto.

Between 19 and 21 May, rebels attacked several villages in Ouham-Pendé Prefecture, killing at least 49 people. The attacks have been attributed to the 3R (Retour, Réclamation et Réhabilitation), rebel groups, a signatory to the peace agreement. The Secretary-General condemned the attack on 23 May, urging the CAR to investigate and swiftly bring those responsible to justice.

Sanctions-Related Developments

On 31 January, the Council renewed the CAR sanctions regime until 31 January 2020 and the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee until 28 February 2020. The resolution expressed the Council’s intention to establish, no later than 30 April, “clear and well-identified key benchmarks regarding the reform of the security sector, the disarmament, demobilisation, reintegration and repatriation process, and the management of weapons and ammunition, that could serve in guiding the Security Council to review the arms embargo measures on the Government of the CAR”, based on an assessment of progress on the benchmarks, to be carried out by the Secretary-General by 31 July.

On 9 April, the Council adopted a presidential statement, stating its readiness to review the arms embargo measures on the government of the CAR through suspension or progressive lifting of these measures in the light of progress achieved on key benchmarks laid down in the text.

Human Rights-Related Developments

During its 40th session, the Human Rights Council (HRC) held a high-level interactive dialogue on 20 March on human rights in the CAR. Andrew Gilmour, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, said that the signing of the Global Peace Agreement by the government and 14 armed groups on 6 February “marked an important milestone”, but that “the human rights situation remained highly volatile”. Marie-Thérèse Keita Bocoum, the independent expert on human rights in the CAR, told the HRC that despite the peace agreement, reports persisted of human rights violations and breaches of humanitarian law. Musa Gassama, head of the human rights component of MINUSCA, told the HRC that the political, socio-economic and security context in the country remained prone to multifaceted violence and human rights violations and that 880 civilians, including 146 women and 117 children, were killed in 2018.  Armed groups accounted for 98 percent of documented human rights abuses and international humanitarian law violations, Gassama said.

Developments in the Peacebuilding Commission

On 10 May, the CAR configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission met with Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix and AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Smaïl Chergui after their 10-13 April visit to the CAR. During their visit, the two co-chaired the first meeting of the International Support Group on the CAR, aimed at encouraging the international community to engage in the peace process and to support the urgent humanitarian needs of the country.

Issues and Options

Progress on the political track and support for the African Initiative, which led to the conclusion of the peace agreement, are central issues, and under resolution 2448, which extended the mandate of MINUSCA in December, the mission is to play a more significant part in the facilitation of the initiative. A related issue concerns questions about the armed groups’ commitment to the political agreement and to the political process as a whole. A credible threat of targeted sanctions might provide an incentive for armed groups to commit to the process, and sanctions against those responsible for attacks against civilians, MINUSCA and humanitarian workers might also help to curb violence. Furthermore, targeting actors who enable the economic activities of armed groups may further pressure them to adhere to the agreement.

In the longer term, following the signing of the peace agreement, the Council will monitor its implementation to assess whether the situation on the ground requires changes in MINUSCA’s mandate.

Council and Wider Dynamics

MINUSCA’s mandate renewal and the possibility of lifting the arms embargo on the CAR government exposed differences of views between the permanent members on the CAR. On the mandate renewal, Russia’s insistence that its political role and military assistance to the CAR be reflected in Council outcomes creates a new dynamic, reflecting Russia’s increasing interest in the region. On sanctions, the adoption of benchmarks for potentially lifting the arms embargo on the government also reflects a shift in the Council’s position, as some Council members pushed for the CAR’s wishes on this issue to be taken into account. In the past, and despite the explicit position of the CAR government, the P3, along with several other Council members, were of the view that limited progress in security sector reform did not warrant contemplating the lifting of the arms embargo.

All Council members share the hope that the peace agreement will improve the situation and restore peace and security in the CAR. While some members have concerns about the agreement’s content—for example, on accountability—Council members are waiting to see whether the agreement is implemented before expressing reservations.

France is the penholder on the CAR, and Côte d’Ivoire chairs the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee.

UN DOCUMENTS ON THE CAR

Security Council Resolutions
31 January 2019S/RES/2454 This was a resolution renewing the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 2127 Central African Republic Sanctions Committee.
13 December 2018S/RES/2448 The Council extended the mandate of MINUSCA and the authorisation to use all the means to provide operational support to MINUSCA until 15 November 2019.
Security Council Presidential Statements
9 April 2019S/PRST/2019/3 This was a presidential statement establishing benchmarks for suspending or progressively lifting arms embargo measures on the government of the CAR.
Security Council Letters
15 February 2019S/2019/145 This was the Secretary-General’s letter containing the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the CAR.
Security Council Meeting Records
21 February 2019S/PV.8467 This was a briefing by departing Special Representative and head of MINUSCA, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, on the latest MINUSCA report.
Security Council Press Statements
28 March 2019SC/13755 This welcomed the consensus reached by the signatory parties to the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the CAR regarding the formation of an inclusive government.
13 February 2019SC/13701 This was a press statement welcoming the signing of the Global Peace Agreement in the CAR.
Sanctions Committee Documents
13 February 2019SC/13701 This was a press statement welcoming the signing of the Global Peace Agreement in the CAR.