posted on WED 2 JAN 2013 5:27 PM
Briefing on the Central African Republic

Thursday afternoon (3 January) Council members are expecting a briefing in consultations, most likely by Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, on the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) and the offensive by the Seleka rebel alliance. At press time no outcome was expected following the meeting.

The Seleka rebel alliance has taken over a number of towns since the launch of a series of attacks on 10 December. (The rebel alliance is composed of factions of the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP) and Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR) in addition to other armed movements such as the Central African People’s Democratic Front (FDPC), the Patriotic Convention for Salvation of Kodro (CPSK) and the Alliance for Rebirth and Refoundation.) These rebel groups claim the current CAR administration of President François Bozizé, has failed to uphold the terms of peace deals signed in 2007, 2008 and 2011.

Council members issued press statements on 19 and 27 December (SC/10867 and SC/10874), expressing their concern about the situation in the CAR, condemning the attacks by armed groups as well as related human rights abuses. (The 19 December statement followed a briefing by Taye-Brook Zerihoun, Assistant-Secretary-General for Political Affairs.) Both statements called on all parties to cease hostilities and renew their commitment to the national reconciliation process, highlighting the need for political dialogue to resolve the current crisis. The 27 December statement also expressed support for the efforts undertaken by the Economic Community of the Central African States (ECCAS) to solve the crisis. In a similar vein, the Secretary-General, the Peacebuilding Commission and the AU also issued statements calling for an end to the armed groups’ offensive and expressed support for regional efforts. (A summit meeting of ECCAS on 21 December called on rebel groups to retreat to their original positions and agreed to exclude any military option as a solution to the crisis and to launch negotiations led by the Republic of Congo. In addition it agreed to strengthen the mandate of the ECCAS Peace Consolidation Mission in the CAR (MICOPAX) to become an interposition force, through the deployment of further troops from the region and the addition of Chadian troops already deployed to Sibut as well as to support the reconstruction of the Forces Armées Centrafricaines.)

Council members will likely be keen to hear about progress made since the ECCAS summit. Following news reports indicating that on 2 January the rebels had halted their advance on Bangui and agreed to start peace talks, possibly next week in Libreville, Gabon, Council members are likely to want to be updated on these developments.

Council members appear also interested in hearing about the security situation for foreign personnel in the CAR. On 28 December, the US embassy was closed and personnel were evacuated. Similarly, the UN temporarily relocated non-essential staff members outside the country. French troops from the Operational Boali force in the CAR have been temporarily reassigned to protect French nationals and diplomatic premises in Bangui.

Later in the month, the Council is due to be briefed on the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the CAR (BINUCA) by Margaret Vogt, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of mission on 9 January and to renew the mandate of BINUCA, which expires on 31 January 2013.

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