What's In Blue

Posted Mon 18 Aug 2014

Briefing on Preparations for Deployment of the Mission in the Central African Republic

Tomorrow (19 August), Special Representative and head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) Babacar Gaye will brief the Security Council on preparations for the deployment of MINUSCA, due to take place on 15 September, and on the latest Secretary-General’s report (S/2014/562). Morocco will also brief as the chair of the Central African Republic (CAR) Peacebuilding Commission. The briefing will be followed by consultations and no outcome had been discussed at press time.

Council members will be interested in hearing from Gaye on the preparations for the establishment of MINUSCA, including specific figures, logistical capacity gaps and contingency plans to fill any voids that remain as of 15 September. They will also be interested in hearing updates on the most recent political developments, in particular the establishment of the new unity government and of any changes on the ground, in terms of hostilities, as a result of the announcement of the 23 July ceasefire agreement, and on the holding of presidential and legislative elections.

The situation in the CAR remains dire. While the African-led International Support Mission in the CAR (MISCA), French and EU troops have tried to protect civilians, their success has been partial and mostly limited to the capital, Bangui. According to the Secretary-General’s report, civilians are the targets of sectarian violence and serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law continue with impunity. These violations include forced displacement, rape and other acts of sexual violence, the recruitment of children by armed groups, and violations of the right to life in various ways. In the latest of attacks on 17 August, 34 people were reported killed in a remote territory about 350 km north of Bangui by the predominantly Muslim Séléka rebel group.

The majority of the Muslim population in particular has been displaced, with roughly 20,000 still trapped in various enclaves, including in Bangui, where they are surrounded and regularly attacked by the Christian anti-Balaka militia. In addition, half of the population is still in need of humanitarian assistance and more than one million have been displaced, with 400,000 seeking refuge in neighbouring countries.

The report adds that MINUSCA continues to work closely with MISCA in preparing its contingents for the transfer of authority, or “re-hatting”, filling in capability gaps and obtaining additional forces. In addition to MISCA contingents, the report notes the recruitment of three non-MISCA battalions and 120 police officers and three helicopters. However, as was the case during the 16 July Council briefing by Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Hervé Ladsous, specific tallies of overall force strength are not given in the report. Some members may be looking for clear and accurate information, supported by figures, on the status of MINUSCA.

On the political front, 169 representatives of the transitional government, armed groups and civil society held talks in Brazzaville from 21-23 July. At the end of the three-day forum, a ceasefire involving the Séléka and the anti-balaka was signed, and demands for the CAR to be split in two along religious lines were dropped. Council members issued a press statement on 24 July welcoming the ceasefire as a first step in a wider political process that is meant to ensure durable peace, respect for human rights, protection of civilians and the rule of law (SC/11491).

As part of the deal, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza on 5 August sacked her government to make way for a national unity government. On 10 August, Samba-Panza named Mahamat Kamoun as the country’s first Muslim prime minister, tasked with forming the new government. According to media reports, the anti-Balaka said they were happy with this choice. However, General Mohamed Mousa Dhaffane, Séléka’s second vice-president, said that the group will reconsider its participation in the government as they were not consulted about Kamoun’s appointment. In the meantime, the agreed ceasefire has not brought an end to the sectarian violence or the activities of both armed groups. Despite the ceasefire agreement, Noureddine Adam, the deputy head of the Séléka announced on 17 August the establishment of an independent state in the northeastern region of the country. Council members may be interested in any updates on reactions to the ceasefire and the composition of the government.

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