Central African Republic and Sudan: Informal Interactive Dialogue on Joint AU-UN Visit
Tomorrow (18 April), Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix and AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Smail Chergui (via VTC) are expected to brief Council members in an informal interactive dialogue on their joint visit to Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR) from 7-13 April. According to a note to the media issued by the Secretary-General, the visit was “aimed at further strengthening the important partnership between the United Nations and the African Union” .
During the interactive dialogue, Lacroix and Chergui will most likely share impressions of their visit, focusing on opportunities for the AU and the UN to cooperate to enhance security and promote political processes in both countries. While in Sudan, Lacroix and Chergui met with Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour, as well as with community leaders at the ZamZam camp for displaced persons in North Darfur. They also interacted with officials from the UN, the AU, and the government regarding the work of the AU/UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).
Members will most likely want the briefers to provide an overview of their meetings with various interlocutors. There will probably be interest in their views regarding how UNAMID is performing, given the ongoing reconfiguration of the mission (which expires on 30 June), in light of the upcoming need to renew its mandate. In accordance with the timetable set out in resolution 2363, UNAMID concluded phase one of its reconfiguration at the end of 2017 and commenced phase two on 31 January. Scheduled to end on 30 June, phase two will include further reductions of UNAMID’s authorised troop and police ceilings from 11,395 to 8,735 military personnel and from 2,888 to 2,500 police personnel. Given these reductions in personnel (and the closing of UNAMID team sites) members may want to get a sense of how the mission is conducting aspects of its mandate related to the protection of civilians, the facilitation of humanitarian assistance, and the promotion of intercommunal reconciliation.
There may also be interest in how the UN and the AU are coordinating their efforts to reach out to opposition groups. In his most recent report to the Council (S/2018/154) in February, the Secretary-General expressed his regret that, in spite of improvements in the security situation, “no tangible progress has been made in finding a comprehensive political solution to the conflict in Darfur” .
During the visit to the CAR from 10- 13 April, Lacroix and Chergui met in Bangui with senior government officials, including President Faustin-Archange Touadéra and Prime Minister Simplice Sarandji. They also met with members of the National Assembly, and jointly chaired with the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) a meeting of the International Support Group for the CAR, which is intended to buttress international efforts to support the peace process and provide humanitarian relief.
During tomorrow’s meeting, there will most likely be discussion of the work of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the CAR (MINUSCA), whose priority tasks are the protection of civilians; good offices and support to the peace process; facilitating the creation of a secure environment for the delivery of humanitarian assistance; and the protection of UN personnel and equipment.
Council members will be interested in learning about the recent efforts of MINUSCA and government forces to work together to address the security threat posed by armed groups against the civilian population. Lacroix and Chergui arrived in the CAR in the midst protests led by criminal elements in Bangui, following a joint operation conducted by MINUSCA and government forces on 8 April to disarm gangs in the PK5 section of the city. While in Bangui, Lacroix and Chergui visited Mauritian peacekeepers, who had been wounded during an attack on 3 April on the temporary MINUSCA base in Tagbara in central CAR. This attack has been attributed to an armed group associated with the anti-Balaka. During their visit they issued a joint AU-UN statement stressing their unity and common determination to support the people and the peace process in CAR.
There will also most likely be discussion of how MINUSCA and the UN can best cooperate and support the African Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation in the CAR, which is led by the AU, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS,) and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR). Members of the Council reaffirmed their support for this initiative in a 27 February press statement. Lacroix and Chergui may emphasise the importance of the African Initiative as a crucial vehicle to bring a sustainable end to the conflict. They may further underscore the need to support financially the panel of facilitators working as a part of the African Initiative.