Report of the Chairperson of the AUC on the 416th PSC meeting on the situation in CAR
Posted by African Press International on February 1, 2014
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, January 30, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ – I. INTRODUCTION
The present report is submitted to Council within the framework of the regular consideration of the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR). It covers the period from 19 December 2013 to 20 January 2014, and gives an overview of the major developments that have taken place in the CAR at the political, security and humanitarian levels, as well as an update on the activities of the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA), following the transfer of authority from the Peace Consolidation Mission of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) in the CAR (MICOPAX), on 19 December 2013.
I. POLITICAL AND INSTITUTIONAL ASPECTS
It should be recalled that, following the unconstitutional change of Government that occurred on 24 March 2013 and pursuant to the efforts of ECCAS, the CAR actors agreed on a transitional period for a maximum of 18 months that would culminate in presidential and legislative elections. On 5 July 2013, the Constitutional Charter for the Transition was adopted, before being promulgated on 18 July 2013. A National Transitional Council (CNT) of 135 members and a Constitutional Council were established on 15 April and 16 August 2013, respectively. Mr. Michel Djiotodia was elected Head of State of the Transition on 13 April 2013 and sworn in on 18 August 2013. Maître Nicolas Tiangaye, who was appointed Prime Minister under the Libreville Agreements of 11 January 2013, retained his post. The elements of a Roadmap for the Transition proposed by the 4th Extraordinary Summit of ECCAS, held in N’Djamena, on 18 April 2013, were accepted by the Transitional Government of National Unity, which, in turn, developed a detailed Roadmap, adopted by the CNT on 7 November 2013.
However, the situation did not improve. At the security level, the abuses against the civilian population, both by ex-Seleka elements and by other armed groups, continued. At the political level, there were several disagreements between the two heads of the Executive branch, who could not provide the necessary impetus to the transition process. Consequently, no significant progress was made in the implementation of the Roadmap for the Transition, including the priority of restoring security, the rule of law and public order in Bangui and the rest of the country. The humanitarian situation deteriorated considerably, especially in the wake of the deadly attacks on 5 December 2013, perpetrated in Bangui by elements belonging to the group known as the anti-Balaka (anti-machettes).
In view of the situation, my Special Representative and Head of MISCA, General Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko and that of President Denis Sassou Nguesso, ECCAS Mediator and Chairman of its Follow-up Committee on the CAR, in coordination with members of the international community in Bangui, took a number of initiatives to help the CAR stakeholders to overcome their differences and implement the Roadmap for the Transition. Similarly, a joint AU-ECCAS delegation, comprising the Foreign Ministers of the Republic of the Congo and Chad, the Minister of Defence of the Republic of the Congo and the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, travelled to Bangui, on 28 December 2013, particularly to stress the need for strong cohesion and effective unity of action among all the stakeholders of the transition.
It is within this context, and given the continuing deterioration of the situation, that the 6th Extraordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government of ECCAS was held in N’Djamena, on 9 and 10 January 2014, under the chairmanship of President Idriss Deby Itno. The AU was represented at that meeting by a delegation led by the Commissioner for Peace and Security. In the communiqué issued after their deliberations, the ECCAS Heads of State and Government lamented the passivity of the entire CAR political class and the lack of cohesion, harmony and unity among the authorities of the Transition, stressing that this situation had not enabled the international community to provide the necessary support to find a solution to the crisis. They took note of the resignation of the Head of State and the Prime Minister of the transition, and called upon all the CAR political and social actors to continue their consultations so as to elect, in the shortest possible time, a new Head of State of the transition and form a transitional Government in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Constitutional Charter for the Transition. In addition, and pursuant to the communiqué of the N’Djamena 6th Extraordinary Summit, the AU and ECCAS, in liaison with the CAR parties and key partners and under the auspices of the Mediator, President Denis Sassou Nguesso, are currently considering the modalities for convening a National Reconciliation Conference.
On 20 January 2014, and following two rounds of vote, Ms. Catherine Samba Panza, Mayor of Bangui, was elected as the Head of State of the Transition, putting an end to the interim ensured by the CNT Chairman, Alexandre Ferdinand Nguendet. She is expected, in the coming days and after broad consultations, to appoint a Prime Minister, who, in turn, will form a new Transitional Government of National Unity. In a communiqué issued the same day, I welcomed this development and urged the CAR actors to give to the new Head of State the necessary support to carry out her mission successfully.
Furthermore, the seven members of the National Elections Authority (ANE), who were appointed by decree on 16 December 2013, were sworn in on 24 December 2013, thus launching the electoral process. The members of the ANE are endeavouring to implement their mandate. The United Nations, particularly the UNDP, has sent experts to assess the level of needs and budgetary estimates for the ANE. Other partners, such as the European Union (EU) and France, have announced their intention to make financial contributions. My Special Representative has indicated MISCA’s readiness to ensure the security of the ANE offices, and the Commission will soon send an electoral expert to support the ANE.
II. SECURITY SITUATION AND DEPLOYMENT OF THE AFISM-CAR
In the recent months, the security situation has been marked by continued abuses by elements of the former Seleka and other armed groups, particularly the anti-Balaka and some elements of the Central African Armed Forces (FACA). In early December 2013, the situation further deteriorated, as a result of the attacks perpetrated in Bangui by elements of the anti-Balaka. The period that followed was characterized by clashes between the anti-Balaka and former Seleka elements and, sometimes, between individuals and families, along community and religious lines. Many crimes were committed. Tens of thousands of people fled their homes to seek refuge in other areas of the city of Bangui considered to be safer, especially the airport area.
Council will recall that, within the framework of their efforts to deal with the security challenges facing the CAR, ECCAS and the AU agreed to increase the strength of MICOPAX and transform it into an African Mission. As a follow-up to those efforts, Council authorized, on 19 July 2013, the deployment of MISCA to contribute notably to the protection of civilians and stabilize the country. On 5 December 2013, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 2127 (2013) through which it endorsed the deployment of MISCA for a period of 12 months. As indicated above, the transfer of authority from MICOPAX to MISCA took place on 19 December 2013. Following the consultations that the Heads of State of the region, the AU and international partners held, in the margins of the Elysée Summit for Peace and Security in Africa, Council, on 13 December 2013, authorized an increase in MISCA’s strength, which could reach up to 6,000 uniformed personnel. It was within this context that a Burundian battalion of 850 was deployed. At the time of finalizing this report, a Rwandese battalion of 850 was being deployed. Once completed, this deployment will bring the total strength of MISCA to 5,305. The military component is provided by the following countries: Burundi (850), Cameroon (517), Republic of the Congo (864), Gabon (517), Equatorial Guinea (205), Chad (792), and Rwanda (850). The 629 police personnel are provided by Cameroon (320), the Republic of the Congo (129), Chad (34), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (145) and Gabon (1). MISCA also has a Joint Operations Centre (OCC) and a civilian component. The Commission intends, once the DRC formally confirms its readiness to contribute additional uniformed personnel, to dispatch a mission to that country to agree on the nature and modalities of such a contribution, within the limits of the strength authorized by Council and on the basis of needs identified on the ground.
A number of partners, particularly France, the US and the EU, are already providing financial and/or logistical support to MISCA. Japan recently pledged to support MISCA. The UN plans to deploy specialized personnel to serve in MISCA’s Mission Headquarters. In order to mobilize a more predicable support, the Commission, with the assistance of the United Nations, will organize in Addis Ababa, on 1 February 2014, a Donors’ Conference for MISCA. All Member States and about 60 international partners have been invited to attend the Conference.
Shortly after the transfer of authority, MISCA adopted new sectorisation plans to achieve a satisfactory networking of both Bangui and the rest of Central African territory, in close cooperation with the French forces of the Sangaris Operation. Thanks to their joint efforts, MISCA and Sangaris were able to contain the violence generated by the attacks that occurred in early December 2013. In conformity with the relevant decisions of Council, this coordination will also be extended to the forces of the Regional Cooperation Initiative for the Elimination of the Lord ‘s Resistance Army (RCI-LAR), a contingent of which is deployed in the Obo area, in the prefecture of Haut Mbomou.
The security situation has continued to improve in Bangui, especially after the decisions of the ECCAS Extraordinary Summit of 10 January 2014, even if it remains volatile in the major part of the CAR territory. The current efforts to secure the CAR portion of the corridor that connect the CAR to Cameroon, and which is the main supply route for the CAR, will allow a smooth flow of trade between the CAR and the port of Douala. In the hinterland, the situation is calm in the Centre and North-East but tense in the North-West, where clashes between anti-Balaka and former Seleka elements caused significant displacement of people. On 11 January 2014, and at the initiative of my Special Representative, an emergency meeting of the National Security Council was held under the chairmanship of the Interim Head of State of the Transition, with the participation of representatives of the former Seleka, the FACA and the anti-Balaka, as well as of the AU and France. The meeting urged all armed groups and FACA to put an immediate end to attacks and to engage in the process of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR).
III. HUMANITARIAN SITUATION AND HUMAN RIGHTS
As a result of the security developments in recent months, the humanitarian situation is catastrophic. The number of displaced persons is estimated at 500,000 in Bangui, including 100,000 in the airport area alone. There are between 800,000 to 900,000 displaced persons in the CAR. At the IDP sites, there are about 60% ??of children. The number of Central Africans who have sought refuge in neighboring countries since December 2013 is estimated at over 72,000. The prevailing insecurity is making it difficult to deliver regularly humanitarian assistance to the affected people. To address the humanitarian needs over the next three months, aid agencies have appealed for the mobilization of 152 million US Dollars.
Clashes between anti-Balaka and former Seleka have resulted in serious violations of human rights, including killings, death threats and other acts of intimidation, arrests and abductions, as well as looting and destruction of property. The sectarian violence has resulted in heavy losses of lives and massive displacements of populations, since 5 December 2013. Combined with the stigmatization of some communities, the prevailing insecurity has compelled many foreigners to leave the CAR.
The Commission has deployed an initial group of five human rights observers within MISCA’s civilian component to enable the Mission to better document human rights violations and facilitate actions aimed at ensuring accountability. Since 4 January 2014, these observers have begun consultations with the relevant CAR authorities, civil society organizations, international organizations and other stakeholders, in order to assess the overall situation and determine how best to implement their mandate. They have begun to collect initial information on violations of human rights in the city of Bangui and will be deployed in the provinces as soon as possible.
IV. DISARMAMENT, DEMOBILISATION AND REINTEGRATION AND SECURITY SECTOR REFORM
Regarding the DDR and the Security Sector Reform (SSR), two national coordination mechanisms were put in place to better channel and harmonize efforts in these areas, both at the strategic and technical levels. These coordination mechanisms were suspended because of the security situation. With the establishment of MISCA on 19 December 2013, it was decided to reactivate these mechanisms.
Confidence-building measures proposed by the MICOPAX and Sangaris Operation and agreed to just before the establishment of MISCA, which revolve around four areas (identification, disarmament, cantonment and behavior of different forces), have enabled the cantonment of 7,140 former Seleka elements in 14 sites around Bangui. On the other hand, following the appeals made to the FACA, the Gendarmerie and the Police, 3,538 out of a total of 8,434 elements of the FACA, 1,085 out of 2,226 gendarmes and 900 out of 1,500 police have been identified between 23 and 31 December 2013, according to the national authorities in Bangui.
MISCA continues its advocacy for the finalization of the cantonment of the former Seleka elements, including support for their sustenance at their cantonment sites. The Mission has requested UNDP’s support for capacity building to enable it support the identification and registration process of the elements of the defense and security forces. MISCA’s efforts are also geared towards the promotion of the broadest possible national consensus on issues of DDR and SSR. These efforts resulted in the signature by the Prime Minister, on 6 January 2014, of the General Guidelines for this purpose.
While the situation in the CAR remains a source of concern, the decisions taken by the Extraordinary Summit of ECCAS and the subsequent evolution observed on the ground have generated an encouraging momentum which should be sustained. I wish to reiterate my deep appreciation to the countries of the region for their critical role, particularly through the actions of Presidents Idriss Deby Itno and Denis Sassou Nguesso, who are respectively the Chairman of ECCAS and Chairman of its Follow-up Committee on the situation in the CAR. Since the outbreak of the CAR crisis, the region has shown an unwavering commitment and mobilized significant resources to facilitate the search for a solution. I call upon the international community to continue to support their efforts.
Building on the work done by MICOPAX, MISCA is exerting efforts towards the effective implementation of its mandate. I congratulate the Head of the Mission and his staff for their sustained efforts and sacrifices. The results achieved thus far, through the joint action of MISCA and the Sangaris Operation, are very encouraging, more especially as the situation is particularly complex. I am confident in the ability of MISCA, as long as the necessary resources are availed to the Mission, to significantly improve the security situation, with a view to facilitating the execution of the different tasks of the Transition. For the international community, the priority should be to support MISCA, through the provision of financial and logistical resources and, where necessary, technical expertise, as well as through the provision of support in specific areas. In so doing, it will enable the Mission to carry out its mandate and thus create conditions for a possible deployment of a UN peace keeping operation.
In this regard, I wish to reiterate the AU’s gratitude to the international partners supporting MISCA, particularly the United States, France and the EU, as well as Japan and the United Nations. I urge them to continue their support. I wish to call upon other international partners to also support MISCA. The Donors’ Conference scheduled to take place in Addis Ababa, on 1 February 2014, is a unique opportunity for the international community as a whole to show solidarity with the CAR people through adequate support to MISCA. It goes without saying that the AU Member States have a crucial role to play. The African ownership and leadership to which the AU aspires necessarily requires a significant contribution to the financing of MISCA. In this regard, I welcome the commitment made by the members of Council at their meeting held in Banjul on 30 December 2013. In addition to bilateral contributions from Member States, I also recommend, following the example of what was done to support the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA), that part of the budget for MISCA be assessed to Member States, on the basis of their contributions to the AU’s regular budget, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Protocol Relating to the Establishment of the Peace and Security Council.
International solidarity alone will not make it possible to overcome the serious difficulties facing the CAR. The CAR political and other stakeholders have a crucial role to play. There can be no lasting solution without national ownership and leadership. Consequently, I reiterate the AU’s appeal to the CAR stakeholders to place the supreme interests of their country above partisan and others considerations. They must seize the unique opportunity offered by the ECCAS Summit of 10 January 2014 to revitalize the Transition and end the untold suffering endured by their people. In this regard, I welcome the election of Ms. Catherine Samba-Panza as the Head of State for the Transition and hail the sense of responsibility, maturity and commitment shown by the CAR actors on this occasion.
Once again, I strongly condemn the abuses and other serious violations of human rights committed in the CAR. Their perpetrators must be identified and held accountable. In view of the serious humanitarian situation obtaining on the ground, I urgently appeal to all the members of the international community to redouble their efforts to assist the affected populations. I thank the countries of the region for their generosity in hosting CAR refugees.
African Union Commission (AUC)