Council Reaction to Seizure of Power in the CAR
It seems that following the seizure of power by the Seleka rebel coalition in the Central African Republic (CAR) on 24 March, Council members are expected to receive a briefing from the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Tayé-Brook Zerihoun later this afternoon. (The briefing will apparently take place under “Any Other Business” following the Liberia consultations, rather than during separate consultations on the CAR.) It appears that France circulated a draft press statement this afternoon which has been put under silence until 4.30 pm. At press time it was unclear if there would be easy consensus on the draft press statement ahead of the briefing and at such short notice.
Apparently the key elements of the draft press statement are condemnation of the recent attacks and seizure of power by force by the Seleka rebellion with particular condemnation of the use of force resulting in death and injuries to soldiers from a training contingent deployed by South Africa at the request of the CAR. There is also likely to be reference to the AU Peace and Security Council’s suspension of the CAR.
In addition, the draft press statement also apparently calls for restoration of the rule of law, constitutional order and the implementation of the 11 January 2013 Libreville agreements. There appears to be no reference to President François Bozizé who has fled the country and is now according to media reports in Cameroon.
Last Friday (22 March) Council members were also briefed by Zerihoun on the situation in the CAR following reports of the Seleka rebellion approaching the capital city of Bangui. Council members released a press statement (SC/10955) following that briefing calling on parties to refrain from acts of violence against civilians, allow unhindered humanitarian access and respect human rights and humanitarian law, recalling that violations of international humanitarian law may amount to crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. It appears that the draft statement circulated this afternoon contains similar language.
What also appears to be missing is any reference to the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA) or to the Economic Community of Central African States’ Peace Consolidation Mission in the CAR. Council members are expecting a report from the Secretary-General assessing the implementation of BINUCA’s priorities by 31 March. A discussion on this report was expected in early April.
However, given the changed circumstances in the CAR it is possible that some members may feel the need to address the impact of these changes on BINUCA’s mandate sooner rather than later.