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 previous report of 16 June 2020 (S/2020/545), as well as recommendations on the extension of the mandate of MINUSCA.
II. Political situation
2. The political environment was dominated by preparations for the general elections, the first round of which is scheduled for 27 December, and was increasingly characterized by tension and mistrust amid a slippage in the electoral calendar. During a national address on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the independence of the Central African Republic, on 13 August, the President, Faustin-Archange Touadera, called for national unity and reaffirmed his commitment to holding timely, credible, inclusive and peaceful elections. He praised the Government and health-care personnel for their efforts in responding to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, despite the opposition’s continued criticism of the Government’s shortcomings in addressing the pandemic.
3. In June, the Constitutional Court rejected the Government’s proposed amendment to the Constitution to extend the tenures of the incumbent President and legislators in the event of an instance of force majeure that would delay the timely holding of elections, noting that any slippage in the constitutional timelines should derive from broad national consultations and consensus. Certain political parties and civil society have since been requesting the Government to convene a national dialogue on the electoral calendar. In September, President Touadera convened a series of meetings on the electoral process with opposition parties, former Heads of State and the forces vives, comprising political parties, civil society and religious and other leaders. The Coalition de l’opposition démocratique 2020 declined to attend a meeting held on 17 September, accusing President Touadera of imposing rushed and poorly prepared elections.
4. As at 1 October, 15 political leaders, including three women, had announced their intention to contest the presidency. Recent announcements included President Touadera of Mouvement des coeurs unis, former President François Bozizé of Kwa Na Kwa, former Head of State Catherine Samba-Panza as an independent, former Prime Minister Anicet Georges Dologuélé of Union pour le renouveau centrafricain, Alexandre Ferdinand Nguendet of Rassemblement pour la République, Éloi Anguimaté of the Convention nationale, Augustin Agou of the Parti de la renaissance et du développement durable and former Prime Minister Mahamat Kamoun of the Be Africa Ti é Kwè party. Some of the opposition candidates voiced strong criticism of the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic, promising to adopt a strong posture towards armed groups.
5. The National Assembly adopted six bills during its second special session, held from 25 June to 9 July, including a revised national budget accounting for expenditure related to the COVID-19, the revised treaty of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the statute on the National Electoral Authority. During a third special session, held from 18 to 23 September, the Assembly passed into law a revised electoral code, with exceptional, derogatory provisions, accounting for delays in electoral operations while maintaining constitutional timelines. Despite the recommendations from the consultative framework and advocacy from the United Nations and other partners, the Government did not include in its draft bill provisions that would allow Central African refugees in neighbouring countries to participate in the polls as they had during the 2015–2016 electoral cycle. A significant number of parliamentarians from the opposition boycotted the vote.
6. My Special Representative for the Central African Republic and Head of MINUSCA, Mankeur Ndiaye, engaged national stakeholders and international partners in line with the good offices and political facilitation mandate of MINUSCA to encourage constructive and inclusive political dialogue. To complement those efforts, in July the Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, and the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smaïl Chergui, engaged with Prime Minister Firmin Ngrébada on the political and peace processes. On 24 September, Messrs. Chergui and Lacroix, together with the Chairperson of the ECCAS Commission, Gilberto Da Piedade Veríssimo, issued a joint call for national stakeholders to engage in political dialogue with a view to achieving consensus and creating conditions conducive to the holding of peaceful, credible and inclusive elections within constitutional timelines.
7. On the margins of the seventy-fifth session of the General Assembly, I convened a high-level meeting on the Central African Republic with President Touadera, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, and the Chairperson of the ECCAS Commission, during which international partners expressed their support for advancing the political process, including the organization of the elections.