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Central African Republic

Expected Council Action

In October, Special Representative and head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, is expected to brief on the latest developments in the country and the most recent MINUSCA report, due on 15 October.

MINUSCA’s mandate expires on 15 November 2018.

The Chair of the 2127 Central African Republic (CAR) Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Kacou Houadja Léon Adom (Côte d’Ivoire), is scheduled to undertake a visiting mission to the country from 2 to 5 October.

Key Recent Developments

The security situation in the CAR is dire. Self-proclaimed self-defence groups, loosely connected to some members of the anti-Balaka movement, have continued to operate in south-eastern CAR, targeting Muslims. Ex-Séléka factions, which are largely Muslim, continue to establish illegal parallel administration and taxation structures in areas under their control, preying on the population. The government, led by President Faustin-Archange Touadéra, has minimal control outside Bangui.

The African Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation in the CAR, led by the AU, convened a meeting of the government and representatives of the 14 armed groups that signed on to this process at the end of August. On 30 August, the armed groups signed a document of demands to form the basis for continued negotiations. Media reports indicate that a previous demand for blanket amnesty for all rebels, rejected by the government, was eventually not included in the document.

In parallel, Russia brokered a meeting in Khartoum between the anti-Balaka militia led by Maxime Mokom and the ex-Séléka led by Noureddine Adam. On 29 August, the two groups issued a declaration of commitment towards peace in the CAR through the establishment of the “Central African Forum” as a framework for communication. The CAR government, which did not participate in this meeting, took note of the declaration. Russia has also been training and arming the CAR security forces and has notified the CAR Sanctions Committee, as required by resolution 2399.

In addition to national reconciliation efforts, MINUSCA is supporting government-led local peace and reconciliation initiatives, inclusive of armed groups and civil society, which have been assisting in reducing violence, building trust between communities, facilitating the return of internally displaced people (IDPs), and local disarmament processes in some areas.

Despite these developments, violence persists. MINUSCA announced that it is investigating reports that nine people were taken from the country’s largest IDP camp, PK3, in Bria on 6 September and killed during violent clashes between anti-Balaka and an ex-Séléka faction, the Popular Front for the Rebirth of the CAR (FPRC). MINUSCA also called for calm after IDPs threw two grenades in the camp while protesting the violence.

After eight people were killed in May in fighting between MINUSCA and another ex-Séléka faction, the Union for Peace (UPC), the security situation in Bambari—located in the centre of the country, where MINUSCA has a significant presence—has been relatively calm. Armed groups remain in control of parts of the city, however, and violent crime remains rampant.

Armed groups continue to target humanitarian workers and MINUSCA peacekeepers. On 23 August, a Burundian peacekeeper was killed in an attack on a MINUSCA convoy in Basse-Kotto prefecture. Council members issued a press statement condemning the attack the following day. Additionally, OCHA reported that between January and August, 274 incidents affecting humanitarian organisations were recorded across the country, endangering staff and hindering humanitarian assistance. More than half of the population—2.5 million people—is in need of humanitarian assistance, and according to UNHCR there were 687,398 IDPs and over 582,000 refugees in neighbouring countries as of 17 May.

In accordance with resolution 2387, the Secretary-General submitted recommendations to the Council on 16 May regarding possible support for the redeployment of the CAR security forces. He recommended that the Council authorise MINUSCA to provide limited operational and logistical support to the CAR security forces trained by the EU Military Training Mission for a period of 12 months, under certain conditions, including that the security forces were vetted and would uphold the principles of accountability and the rule of law. The Secretary-General stressed that without this support, the ability of the CAR to restore peace and establish state authority would be undermined. In a 13 July presidential statement, the Council expressed its intent to review the Secretary-General’s recommendations. The statement also expressed its concern over the continuing violence perpetrated by armed groups in the CAR and reaffirmed its support for the African Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation in the CAR.

Sanctions-Related Developments

The 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee met on 20 July to discuss the midterm report of the Panel of Experts assisting the committee. The report noted that the ongoing redeployment of the CAR military and the joint operations of MINUSCA and the national security forces—mainly the failed attempt on 7-8 April to dismantle armed elements in PK5, a Muslim enclave in Bangui—have contributed to the hardening of the positions of ex-Séléka elements, in particular the FPRC. Its leaders continued their attempts to reunify the Séléka and consolidate parallel administrations in areas under their control.

The committee met with the representatives of neighbouring countries on 7 September to discuss the implementation of sanctions.

Human Rights-Related Developments

During its 39th session, the Human Rights Council held an interactive dialogue on 27 September with the independent expert on human rights in the CAR, Marie-Thérèse Keita Bocoum, and considered her report covering July 2017 to June (A/HRC/39/70). The reporting period, during which Bocoum made two visits to the CAR, was marked by “constant human rights violations and abuses linked to continuing attacks by various armed groups in the south-west of the country in 2017, and in Bangui and the centre of the country in 2018”, the report said. Most of the abuses were attributable to anti-Balaka and ex-Séléka armed factions and criminal gangs which continued to target civilians, humanitarian workers and UN peacekeepers, but also homes, public buildings, hospitals and places of worship, worsening the humanitarian situation and restricting access to economic and social rights, as detailed in the report.

Issues and Options

The continued fighting between rebels, attacks against civilians along sectarian lines, and the targeting of MINUSCA personnel and other UN and humanitarian personnel is of serious concern to the Council. In addition, slow reconciliation efforts have yet to change the situation on the ground or assist in expanding state authority beyond Bangui.

In an effort to curb violence, the Council could consider acting through the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee, listing those with links to recent attacks on civilians, including individuals who have incited ethnic or religious violence. A credible threat of sanctions might also be an effective incentive for armed groups to commit to reconciliation.

As signalled in the 13 July presidential statement, as part of its efforts, the Council could mandate MINUSCA to provide limited operational and logistical support to the CAR security forces, as recommended by the Secretary-General in his May report.

Council and Wider Dynamics

The deteriorating security situation, with its intercommunal undertones, slow reconciliation efforts, and the government’s inability to project law outside of Bangui and Bambari, has been a continuing matter of concern for the Council.

The issue of support for the CAR security forces has been a sticking-point for Council members, as security sector reform, including the vetting of personnel, has gone slowly. In light of this, Council members disagreed during negotiations over resolution 2387 about whether MINUSCA should be assisting the authorities by working with personnel who have been linked to human rights violations while faced with the reality that MINUSCA is unable to be present in large parts of the CAR without the deployment of these forces. In addition, while the US is pushing for austerity and efficiency in peacekeeping, some Council members question MINUSCA’s ability to expand its tasks when it is already overstretched and experiencing difficulties in fulfilling its mandate. These differences of approach also surfaced during the negotiations over the 13 July presidential statement.

France is the penholder on the CAR.

UN DOCUMENTS ON THE CAR

Security Council Resolutions
27 January 2017 S/RES/2339 This resolution renewed the CAR sanctions regime until 31 January 2018 and the mandate of the Panel of Experts until 28 February 2018.
15 November 2017 S/RES/2387 This resolution renewed the mandate of MINUSCA until 15 November 2018.
Security Council Presidential Statement
13 July 2018 S/PRST/2018/14 This was a presidential statement expressing the Council’s concern over the continuing violence perpetrated by armed groups in the CAR and reaffirming its support to the African Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation in the CAR.
Security Council Letters
27 September 2018 S/2018/846 This was from Sudan regarding the Khartoum meeting between armed groups from the CAR.
15 May 2018 S/2018/463 This was a letter on MINUSCA support for the CAR security forces.
Security Council Press Statement
27 September 2018 SC/13465 This condemned a 23 August attack by armed elements on a MINUSCA convoy in Basse-Kotto prefecture, killing one Burundian peacekeeper.
Sanctions Committee Documents
27 September 2018 SC/13456 This was a press release on the 20 July briefing by the Panel of Experts assisting the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee on the panel’s midterm report.
23 July 2018 S/2018/729 This was the midterm report of the Panel of Experts assisting the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee.

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