Resolution on CAR Sanctions
The Council is expected to adopt a resolution tomorrow renewing the sanctions on the Central African Republic (CAR), which expire on 29 January, and the mandate of the Panel of Experts assisting the 2127 Sanctions Committee, which expires on 29 February. The draft resolution will be put in blue this evening having just passed the silence procedure.
The resolution will renew 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 Committee on 30 July 2016 and a final report to the Security Council, after discussion with the Committee, by 31 December 2016.
Negotiations were not contentious with regard to the sanctions measures themselves. Some language was added concerning the need for CAR to develop better capacity to store and manage weapons and ammunition. At Russia’s suggestion, language was added expressing concern over the various allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse reportedly committed by peacekeepers in the CAR and the need for the Secretary-General to implement his zero-tolerance policy.
The resolution comes at a time of important political developments in the CAR, which affected the negotiations. A constitutional referendum took place on 13 December 2015, in which the overwhelming majority of voters voted in favour of the new constitution, albeit with a low turnout of just under 40 percent. Voting was extended into the next day as in some areas violence and intimidation impeded the voting, including in the Muslim PK-5 neighbourhood in Bangui, where five people were killed on 13 December.
Presidential and legislative elections took place on 30 December 2015 without major incidents, despite initial concerns, with a turnout of 79 percent. Yesterday (25 January), the CAR Constitutional Court certified the presidential election results, and confirmed that a run-off scheduled for 31 January will pit two former prime ministers, Anicet Dologuélé and Faustin Touadera, against each other. However, the Court annulled the legislative elections, due to irregularities and the implication of candidates in these irregularities. By law, the legislative elections need to rescheduled within 60 days.
The main point of contention during negotiations of the draft resolution concerned the preambular paragraph addressing the recent elections. The draft text circulated by France commended the Transitional Authorities and the Central African people for the holding of the Constitutional referendum and the first round of elections. However, even before the Constitutional Court annulled the legislative elections, it seems Russia took the view that the conduct of the referendum and the elections was far from commendable, and that the Council should only take note of the events. Several other members supported the French position of regarding the process so far as a positive step forward, despite the irregularities. It seems that a compromise between the two positions was found in 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 on a draft press statement circulated on 14 December 2015 over whether to welcome or take note of the constitutional referendum. However, in that case a compromise was not possible, leading to the press statement eventually being abandoned.
Looking ahead, the Council is expected to authorise an increase in the number of corrections officers in the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) from 40 to 108, at the request of the Secretary-General, in the coming days. While there is a consensus in the Council on authorising the increase, the US has asked that the resolution be adopted after it gets Congressional approval for the budgetary implications.