Central African Republic
Expected Council Action
In November, the Council is expected to renew the mandate of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), which expires on 15 November.
Key Recent Developments
Preparations for the first round of presidential elections—which are scheduled for 27 December, with legislative and local elections and a possible second round of presidential elections in early 2021—continue apace despite a tense political and security environment. The Secretary-General’s 12 October report noted that the CAR’s political situation is “increasingly characterized by tension and mistrust” as elections in the country approach.
On 23 September, the CAR National Assembly passed legislation that amended the electoral code and extended the registration deadline by a month. While the Secretary-General noted that the deadline extension has not affected the 27 December election date, several Council members, speaking during a Council briefing on the CAR on 19 October, expressed concern that the process could be “endangered” if there are further delays. The registration process had been set back because of insecurity and obstruction by a number of armed groups, including the 3R (Retour, Réclamation et Réhabilitation) group and the anti-Balaka.
The National Assembly’s 23 September electoral code amendments failed to include a provision that would have allowed approximately 250,000 Central African refugees outside the country to vote in the upcoming elections. Despite a recommendation from the CAR’s multi-stakeholder consultative framework on the elections and UN advocacy, CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadéra said that permitting refugee participation presented “insurmountable obstacles”, though he did not elaborate on the nature of these hurdles.
Briefing the Council on 19 October, Mankeur Ndiaye, Special Representative for the CAR and head of MINUSCA, said 16 candidates, including three women and the incumbent Touadéra, have so far announced their intention to compete in the presidential elections. Among them is former president François Bozizé, who announced on 25 July that he would run in the elections; he was listed under Security Council sanctions in 2014 for “engaging in or providing support for acts that undermine the peace, stability or security of CAR”. Ndiaye noted on 19 October that some of the candidates have “cast doubt on the country’s peace process”.
Implementation of the CAR’s 2019 Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation also remains problematic, with a number of armed groups continuing to violate the agreement and obstruct the restoration of the CAR government’s authority. In addition, according to the Secretary-General, there has been a “resurgence in violence” in the CAR’s north-west, though the situation in CAR’s north-east stabilised after an upswing in violence earlier this year. In response, and in support of its protection of civilians mandate, MINUSCA has undertaken a series of operations in recent months, including one launched on 17 May in the town of Ndélé in the north of the country to help stabilise the situation there and another, launched in coordination with the Central African armed forces on 17 June, to end violence against civilians in north-west CAR committed by the 3R armed group.
According to OCHA, CAR’s humanitarian situation remains worrisome. Approximately 2.6 million people require humanitarian assistance and 2.36 million people are considered food insecure. Intercommunal tensions, attacks against civilians, and a spate of attacks on humanitarian workers have had a detrimental impact on the humanitarian situation and delivery of assistance. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the country’s socioeconomic situation. The overall number of those infected with the coronavirus remains relatively low (as of 10 October, there were officially 4,850 cases), but CAR suffers from limited testing capacity, potentially masking the actual figures. According to the World Health Organization, CAR is “one of the least prepared countries to face the COVID-19 outbreak”.
Human Rights-Related Developments
During its 45th session, the Human Rights Council (HRC) held an interactive dialogue with the independent expert on the situation of human rights in the CAR, Yao Agbetse. According to Agbetse’s report (A/HRC/45/55), from July 2019 to June, MINUSCA’s human rights division documented 880 incidents of abuse and violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, which involved 1,552 victims.
On 7 October, the HRC adopted without a vote resolution 45/35, which renewed the mandate of the independent expert on the situation of human rights in CAR for a year and requested that the independent expert work closely with MINUSCA, especially in the area of transitional justice. The resolution also reminded countries that contribute troops to MINUSCA acting under the mandate of the Security Council to take appropriate measures to “prevent any and all acts of sexual exploitation and abuse and to prevent impunity among their personnel”.
Key Issues and Options
The immediate task for the Council is renewing MINUSCA’s mandate in November and ensuring that the December elections are credible and held in a secure and transparent manner. As such, members may use the mandate renewal as an opportunity to strengthen further the mission’s efforts to support CAR in organising the elections. Monitoring the process leading up to the elections and the implementation of the CAR peace agreement will also be a priority.
Given the concern of a number of Council members regarding ongoing attacks on humanitarian workers and peacekeepers, Council members may also wish to strengthen language in the MINUSCA mandate about the need for greater accountability for those groups and individuals who violate international humanitarian law.
Finally, as the elections approach, members may also consider adopting a statement echoing the conclusions of the 1 October high-level ministerial meeting on CAR convened by the Secretary-General, urging continued calm and a cessation of all violence and calling for full implementation of the peace agreement. This, coupled with a potential unanimous adoption of MINUSCA’s mandate renewal in November, would demonstrate the Council’s unified support for MINUSCA.
Council and Wider Dynamics
There is consensus on the Council in support of the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation and around the need for peaceful elections in December. Strong differences regarding the CAR sanctions regime were highlighted during negotiations in January and were again raised during both the 1 October high-level ministerial meeting on CAR and the 19 October Council briefing. Nonetheless, the unanimous adoption of resolution 2536 renewing sanctions in July and the smooth negotiations leading to its adoption suggest that the Council may now have found a more unified way to approach CAR. Council members appear to be largely unified in their wish to have uncontentious negotiations leading up to the mandate renewal.
France is the penholder on the CAR, and Ambassador Abdou Abarry (Niger) chairs the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee.
UN DOCUMENTS ON THE CAR
|Security Council Resolutions|
|28 July 2020S/RES/2536||This resolution extended the CAR sanctions regime until 31 July 2021, including an arms embargo with some exemptions, and renewed the mandate of the CAR Panel of Experts, who assist the Sanctions Committee to oversee the sanction measures, until 31 August 2021.|
|15 November 2019S/RES/2499||This extended the mandate of MINUSCA and the authorisation to use all means to provide operational support to MINUSCA until 15 November 2020.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|19 October 2020S/PV.8771||This was a briefing on the latest Secretary-General’s report (S/2020/994) on MINUSCA.|
|12 October 2020S/2020/994||This was the Secretary-General’s latest report on the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).|