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 the previous report of 14 February 2020 (S/2020/124), including the impact of the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which was officially declared in the Central African Republic on 14 March.
II. Political situation Political developments
2. The political environment was marked by increased mobilization ahead of the presidential and legislative elections scheduled for December 2020, contributing to tensions between political stakeholders. The Special Representative of the SecretaryGeneral for the Central African Republic and Head of MINUSCA, Mankeur Ndiaye, with his good offices and political facilitation mandate, engaged with national stakeholders and international partners to encourage constructive and inclusive political dialogue to preserve fragile gains.
3. On 11 February, 14 opposition parties formed the Coalition de l’opposition démocratique with the proclaimed objective of ensuring free, fair, inclusive and timely elections. The coalition includes the parties Union pour le renouveau centrafricain of the former Prime Minister, Anicet-Georges Dologuélé; the Kwa Na Kwa of the former President, François Bozizé; the Convention républicaine pour le progrès social of the former Prime Minister, Nicolas Tiangaye; the Chemin de l’espérance of the former President of the National Assembly, Karim Meckassoua; and the Be Africa Ti E Kwe of the former Prime Minister, Mahamat Kamoun.
4. The arrests, on 28 March and 3 April, of 31 individuals on charges of criminal association, undermining State security, and conspiracy, including 11 members of the Armed Forces of the Central African Republic, contributed to political tensions. The arrests took place, respectively, at the residence of the Minister of Arts, Culture, and Tourism, Dieudonné Ndomate, head of the Ngaïssona anti-balaka wing, and at an unoccupied residence of Mr. Bozizé. On 3 April, the public prosecutor of the Bangui Court of Appeal clarified that he had not issued an arrest warrant against Mr. Bozizé as had been rumoured. The Kwa Na Kwa denounced the arrests as politically motivated. In a joint communiqué dated 24 April, signatory armed groups characterized the arrests as a violation of the Government’s commitments under the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic.
5. Political tensions also increased following a legislative petition sponsored by the ruling coalition to amend the constitution in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, which was signed by 101 of 140 parliamentarians. The proposed amendment was aimed at extending the tenures of the president and members of parliament if elections could not be held within constitutional timelines owing to unforeseen circumstances, or force majeure. The Government expressed support for the bill, arguing the need to prevent institutional instability and a constitutional vacuum. Many opposition parties and civil society groups voiced strong concerns, insisting on adhering to constitutional timelines. On 5 June, the Constitutional Court ruled that the proposed amendment would be unconstitutional, as would be a transition, and emphasized that any slippage of the electoral calendar should derive from broad national consultations seeking a consensual solution.
6. In national addresses on 19 and 26 March, the President, Faustin Touadéra, announced a series of mitigation measures to combat the spread of COVID-19, calling for national solidarity, including a 21-day quarantine for people entering the country and any suspected COVID-19 cases and their contacts, a temporary ban on gatherings of more than 15 people, temporary closure of schools and entertainment spaces, and restrictions on entering the country. On 27 April, authorities temporarily restricted commercial and passenger movements on key axes from Bangui to the west and to towns bordering Cameroon and the Ubangi river.
7. A number of opposition parties rallied behind the announced mitigation measures and suspended public events. National Assembly members made private donations to the Government for the national pandemic response. Interreligious platforms welcomed the measures and announced restrictions of religious activities. Despite agreement to address the pandemic apolitically, some opposition politicians criticized shortcomings in the Government’s response and per ceived the authorities to be using the pandemic to advance a political agenda.
8. On 15 May, 34 out of 42 parties associated with the presidential majority launched the “Be Oko” or “Les coeurs unis” political platform to counterweigh the opposition Coalition de l’opposition démocratique platform. The intention of the United Hearts platform is to rally behind one candidate for the presidential elections and agree on candidates for the legislative elections. Four political leaders announced their candidacy for the presidential elections, specifically Martin Ziguélé of the Mouvement de libération du peuple Centrafricain; Bornou Brigitte Hortense of the Parti pour le progrès du peuple; Crépin Mboli-Goumba of the Parti africain pour une transformation radicale et l’intégration des Etats; and Aristide Briand Reboas of the Parti chrétien démocratie, which has since joined the “Be Oko” platform.
9. The National Assembly in its first ordinary session of 2020, which concluded on 30 May, adopted four laws, including on the status of military personnel, in accordance with the 2017 national defence plan.