posted on MON 8 APR 2013 5:02 PM
Briefing on the Central African Republic by UN Mission Head

Tomorrow morning (9 April), the Council is scheduled to receive a briefing in consultations from Margaret Vogt, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA). Vogt is set to brief members on the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) via video-teleconference. In resolution 2088, adopted 24 January, the Council asked the Secretary-General to provide a report no later than 31 March on the situation on the ground and to assess how BINUCA can further implement its priorities in light of recent events. Tomorrow’s consultations were originally scheduled in order to discuss this report but it seems the report has been postponed to sometime in April to reflect the new realities on the ground. As a result tomorrow’s briefing is likely to focus on key recent developments although some Council members may be interested in getting Vogt’s initial views on how these developments might affect BINUCA’s mandate.

The CAR has been an active agenda item in the Council of late, given the political turmoil that has engulfed the country over the past few weeks. Tomorrow’s meeting will represent the third time Council members have met in consultations to discuss the CAR since 20 March. While no draft text had been circulated at press time, it is possible that some Council members may be beginning to feel the need to go beyond the recent practice of simply releasing press statements on the CAR and may try to adopt a presidential statement on the situation in CAR and political developments in the near future. (The most recent press statement on 25 March [SC/10960] condemned the the seizure of power by the Seleka rebels on 24 March and took note of AU actions. The Council had previously released press statements on 22 March, calling for a cessation of hostilities [SC/10955], and on 20 March, condemning attacks by the Seleka rebels [SC/10948].)

Council members will likely be interested in an update on recent political developments. Renewed fighting between the Seleka rebels and the government broke out in mid-March as the rebels claimed that the government had not fulfilled its promises under the 11 January 2013 Libreville agreements. Under the agreements, it had been agreed that President François Bozizé would remain in power until the end of his term in 2016, and a government of national unity—in which opposition leaders were to be given key posts—was formed to implement reforms and hold parliamentary elections. The rebels took over Bangui on 24 March, forcing President Bozizé to flee to Cameroon. The takeover was followed by massive looting in the city and a curfew is still being imposed in the city although the hours have been reduced.

Several Council members still see the Libreville agreements as the relevant framework for peace and stability in the country, as reflected by the 25 March press statement, which described the Libreville agreements as the “framework for political transition and the basis for a peaceful solution.” However, they are supportive of regional and sub-regional efforts to resolve the situation as well, and in the same press statement, emphasised the role of Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) in facilitating the implementation of the Libreville agreements with the support of the AU.

While some Council members are cautious about singling out a specific side in the conflict, others, including African members of the Council like Rwanda, appear to support a more aggressive approach towards the rebels. This approach would seem consistent with the 25 March decision of the AU Peace and Security Council to suspend the CAR from participation in AU activities and impose sanctions on seven Seleka leaders.

One recent development that is likely to be discussed tomorrow is the 3 April ECCAS summit meeting held in Chad. Although the summit did not recognise the self-appointed interim President of the CAR, rebel leader Michel Djotodia, it allowed Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye, who was appointed on 17 January in the aftermath of the Libreville agreements and has been designated by Djotodia to head an interim government, to attend on behalf of the CAR. (Bozizé did not attend and was not mentioned in the communiqué.) The ECCAS summit called for the creation of a transitional institution that would draw up a new constitution and prepare for elections within 18 months.

According to media reports, Djotodia has accepted the solution. ECCAS is to hold another summit within the week, which may result in a declaration further detailing its position on the way forward. Council members will follow this summit closely, as ECCAS will likely be an important actor in the CAR in the near future. Some Council members may see this as the appropriate point for a presidential statement.

Council members may want more information about the challenging humanitarian situation. According to the UN High Commission for Refugees, the number of refugees fleeing the country has risen to 37,000 since December 2012. In addition, some 173,000 people have been internally displaced over the last four months.

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