1. By its resolution 2499 (2019), the Security Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) until 15 November 2020 and requested me to report on its implementation every four months. The present report provides an update on major developments in the Central African Republic since my report of 15 October 2019 (S/2019/822).
II. Political situation
2. Activities related to the implementation of the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic continued to be the focus of attention by national and international stakeholders. The political environment is increasingly dominated by political dynamics ahead of the elections to be held in 2020 and 2021, marked by the return of the former Presidents, François Bozizé and Michel Djotodia, and the former President of the National Assembly, Abdou Karim Meckassoua.
3. One year after the signing of the Agreement, violence has decreased overall, although intermittent but serious incidents of violence and human rights violations continued. Progress was made on such priorities as the implementation mechanisms, key legislation, efforts to combat impunity, local-level reconciliation mechanisms and preparations for elections. Notwithstanding these advances, the persistent lack of good faith among the signatories, in particular the three main ex-Séléka armed groups, the Retour, réclamation et réhabilitation group and anti-balaka groups, and a nominal commitment by parts of the Government, especially the Armed Forces of the Central African Republic, as well as sensitive matters such as transitional security and justice mechanisms, contributed to delays.
4. The national authorities’ deadline of the end of January 2020 to conclude disarmament and demobilization was not met. Disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and repatriation operations, however, resumed in the west, although some armed groups continued to conduct illegal activities. The 253 former combatants who were disarmed, demobilized and vetted for the special mixed security units for the north-west defence zone completed their training in Bouar on 16 December, together with 266 members of the defence and internal security forces. The unit is not yet operational. The national authorities, with the support of MINUSCA, the European Union, the African Union, the Peacebuilding Fund and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), are working to address obstacles to the deployment of the units, including deployment locations and sites, per diem payments and logistics.
5. The National Assembly held its ordinary session from 1 October to 27 December 2019. Several laws referred to in the Agreement, namely those on the status of former Heads of State, decentralization and local governance, the status of political parties and the opposition and the return of internally displaced persons, have yet to be adopted.
6. My Special Representative and Head of MINUSCA, Mankeur Ndiaye, the guarantors of the Agreement (the African Union and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS)) and the Government continued efforts to strengthen commitment to the Agreement. For example, after MINUSCA conducted military operations against Retour, réclamation et réhabilitation, a delegation comprising representatives of MINUSCA, the African Union and ECCAS met the group’s leader in Bouar on 24 October to encourage engagement in the disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and repatriation process. The group’s leader agreed that the group would disarm and demobilize only if it could join the joint security units. However, it suspended its participation in the implementation mechanisms of the Agreement after 124 of its combatants were declared ineligible for the units. On 7, 12 and 14 November, high-level delegations met leaders of the Front populaire pour la renaissance de la Centrafrique (FPRC) and the Mouvement des libérateurs centrafricains pour la justice (MLCJ) in Birao and Ndélé to prevent further violence.
7. In November, the secretariat of the Executive Monitoring Committee of the Agreement developed recommendations to improve effectiveness. Key recommendations yet to be implemented include increasing armed group representation from 5 to all 14 signatories, establishing a vice-presidential position for the commission overseeing prefectural committees and increasing the number of secretariat personnel.
8. On 3 December, the commission held its sixth session in Bangui to discuss, inter alia, the implementation of article 35 of the Agreement with punitive or coercive measures, including political, economic, judicial and international sanctions and the use of force. Exceptionally, all signatory armed groups participated, except the Front démocratique du peuple centrafricain. The representative of the political opposition and leader of the Union pour le Renouveau Centrafricain party, Anicet-Georges Dologuélé, participated for the first time.
9. On 16 December, FPRC, the Unité pour la paix en Centrafrique (UPC) and the Mouvement patriotique pour la Centrafrique (MPC) requested a meeting under article 34 of the Agreement in a letter to my Special Representative and the guarantors. They rejected allegations that armed groups were the only violators of the Agreement. They pointed to the participation of such groups in the Agreement’s monitoring mechanisms, the dismantling of illegal barriers and the submission of eligibility lists for disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and repatriation, while lamenting delays by the Government, in particular in making the joint security units operational. MINUSCA, the African Union and ECCAS, in consultation with the Government, agreed to meet. On 13 January, the three groups issued another communiqué in which they criticized the slow implementation of the Agreement and called for the meeting, insisting that it be held outside the country, which the Government and guarantors have opposed.
10. On 6 February, the first anniversary of the signing of the Agreement was commemorated at the presidential palace, with the participation of 13 of the 14 signatory armed groups, political parties, civil society and the international community. The United Nations, the African Union and ECCAS issued a joint communiqué to mark the occasion and call for the full implementation of the Agreement.
11. The prefectural committees, supported by the Peacebuilding Fund, continued to address security issues and the root causes of the conflict, although their effectiveness required improvement. The participation of women remained limited, at around 20 per cent, with 44 women in 15 committees. Only the three women prefects of Bangassou, Mobaye and Mambéré-Kadéï are members of technical security committees. Victims’ associations participate, representing all victims of the conflict, not only conflict-related sexual violence. In Ouham Prefecture, the establishment of the prefectural committee enabled Muslim leaders and some ex-Séléka members to return for the first time since 2013.
12. On 29 November, the National Assembly adopted the national budget for 2020, which amounted to $481 million. It contained allocations to implement the Agreement, including $400,700 for monitoring mechanisms.