Central African Republic: Report of the Secretary-General (S/2021/867)

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I. Introduction

1. By its resolution 2552 (2020), the Security Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) until 15 November 2021 and requested the SecretaryGeneral 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 the Secretary-General of 16 June 2021 (S/2021/571) and on the reinforcement of MINUSCA authorized in resolution 2566 (2021).

II. Political situation

2. The establishment of the new Government generated some momentum in the process leading to the organization of a “republican dialogue”. At the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, a joint road map for peace in the Central African Republic was adopted, in which participants called for an inclusive dialogue in support of the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic and urged the Government to declare a ceasefire. The peace process continued to progress incrementally in the context of persisting political tensions and continued military operations that contributed to a deepening humanitarian crisis and serious human rights violations.

Political developments

3. The President, Faustin Archange Touadéra, established a new Government on 23 June, comprising 32 ministers, including 3 ministers of State, 28 ministers and 1 minister delegate, at least 20 of whom were members of or closely associated with the ruling Mouvement des coeurs unis party. Seven government ministers were women, representing 21.9 per cent, above the 14.7 per cent in the previous government, but still below the 35 per cent quota established by the gender parity law. Six ministers originated from armed groups that were signatories to the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation that had renounced violence, two were from civil society and two were former presidential candidates.

4. On 30 June, President Touadéra established an organizing committee for a republican dialogue, which was inaugurated on 1 September. The political opposition, armed groups and civil society criticized the committee’s composition owing to the large representation of public authorities and those affiliated with the ruling party. On 22 July, the President amended the committee’s composition, increasing it from 24 to 29 members, including 3 women, with additional seats for political parties and civil society. The Coalition des patriotes pour le changement-affiliated armed groups remained excluded from the organizing committee.

5. On 29 June, the Constitutional Court proclaimed the final results of the 23 May legislative elections. Residual legislative elections were held in seven constituencies on 25 July, with a voter turnout of some 60 per cent. The Court announ ced the final results on 30 August, concluding the legislative electoral cycle held in all constituencies, which saw all 140 seats of the National Assembly filled, including 18 women, up from 12 in the prior legislature. The ruling Mouvement des coeurs unis obtained a relative majority (41), followed by independents (35) many of whom were allied with the Mouvement des coeurs unis, the Kwa Na Kwa party (10) and representatives of 22 other parties (54). On 1 October, the National Assembly commenced its second ordinary session of the seventh legislature.

6. On 12 August, the Constitutional Court revoked the parliamentarian status of the elected member of the opposition party Chemin de l’espérance and former President of the National Assembly, Abdou Karim Meckassoua, and proclaimed the election of the runner-up, Ibrahim Ould Alhissene Algoni of the ruling Mouvement des coeurs uni. The Court found Meckassoua ineligible to contest the election owing to his involvement in the Coalition des patriotes pour le changement, as imputed in the notice of prosecution against him issued in January 2021. On 15 August, Meckassoua left the country. Members of the political opposition denounced the Court’s decision, claiming the Government had used the Court in an attempt to silence political dissent. On 20 September, the Court of Auditors issued a judgment dismissing the allegations against Meckassoua for corruption, which had formed the basis for his removal as President of the National Assembly in September 2018.

7. On 16 September, the Heads of State and Government of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, including President Touadéra, met in Luanda for a mini-summit on the situation in the Central African Republic. The Heads of State and Government adopted a joint road map to revitalize the peace process, notably calling for the declaration of a ceasefire by the Government and reaffirming the continued consultations of the Heads of State and Government of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region with leaders of the armed groups for a total renunciation of violence.

Implementation of the Political Agreement

8. Progress on the implementation of the Political Agreement remained limited, with attention focused on preparations for the republican dialogue and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region initiative. The Government appointed a Minister of State for Demobilization, Disarmament, Reintegration and Repatriation and the Monitoring of the Implementation of the Agreement, one of the recommendations from the February evaluation of the Political Agreement by the Government. The Executive Monitoring Committee of the Political Agreement held its eleventh session on 2 August. At that session, its first since 16 April, it validated the recommendations from the evaluation.

9. The Coalition des patriotes pour le changement was weakened during the reporting period by financial challenges and military operations by the national armed forces, as well as bilaterally deployed and other security personnel.

10. The armed group Unité pour la paix en Centrafrique remains internally divided over the implementation of the Political Agreement. On 11 September, the leader of the group, Ali Darassa, reaffirmed its commitment to the Political Agreement, declaring his intention to withdraw from the Coalition des patriotes pour le changement. Following this declaration, the coordinator of the “dissident” faction of the group, “Général” Hamadou Tanga, addressed a letter to the Minister of State for Demobilization, Disarmament, Reintegration and Repatriation and Monitoring of the Implementation of the Agreement, announcing the formation of the “dissident” faction of the group dissociated from Ali Darassa and requesting the integration of 300 “dissident” elements of the group in the demobilization, disarmament, reintegration and repatriation process.

11. From 27 to 29 September, the international faith-based organization Sant’Egidio community brought together political parties, civil society and religious confessi ons to discuss and make recommendations for the republican dialogue. The meeting resulted in the “Rome declaration”, which advocates for inclusiveness of the dialogue, a declaration of ceasefire and the creation of conducive conditions for the dialogue to take place.

12. Efforts to operationalize the special mixed security units continued. Living conditions for elements of these units in the Bouar and Paoua camps were improved through a European Union-funded project. At the time of writing, there were 269 elements in Bouar and 206 in Paoua, including former members of armed groups, as well as national defence and internal security forces. Challenges related to delayed payment of salaries by the Government and weak command and control persisted.

13. Regarding the socioeconomic provisions of the Agreement, the Joint Executive Committee of the National Recovery and Peacebuilding Plan continued to reinforce linkages between the national development plan and the Political Agreement by developing a comprehensive approach by the Ministry of Planning and Economy, in collaboration with the United Nations country team and the World Bank to enhance synergies, identify criteria to prioritize and prepare for the strategic deployment of peace dividends. The KoBo toolbox, developed with World Bank support and fully operational since April 2021, allowed real-time monitoring of the implementation of projects related to the National Plan for Recovery and Peacebuilding Plan, including the delivery of peace dividends.

Electoral preparations

14. On 14 September, the Prime Minister chaired the strategic committee meeting on elections. A new electoral calendar was adopted for the municipal, regional and senatorial elections, the first since 1988, with local elections scheduled for 11 September 2022. Voter registration was scheduled from 2 January to 30 April 2022 to allow internally displaced persons, refugee returnees and new adults to participate.

15. The organization of local elections would require the mobilization of some $10 million. On 2 September, the Government announced it would disburse $0.4 million for the electoral mapping scheduled from October to December 2021.
The Government committed to providing the National Elections Authority with $2.7 million from the 2022 State budget. Efforts were ongoing with partners of the Central African Republic to mobilize the remaining resources.

16. The joint efforts of MINUSCA and the United Nations country team to support women’s participation in all stages of the elections, as voters and candidates, helped to increase the representation of women in the new Parliament. The electoral process, however, confirmed that sociocultural barriers continued to impede women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in political life, including gender bias, a lack of political will and the deteriorating security situation.

Local dialogue and reconciliation

17. On 16 July, MINUSCA chaired a consultative meeting with stakeholders to evaluate local peace and reconciliation committees. Women comprised 30 per cent of committee members by end of June 2021, an increase from 21.4 per cent in 2020. As at 1 October, the Ministry of Humanitarian Action and National Reconciliation had established 52 local peace and reconciliation committees, 14 of which received financial support from MINUSCA.

18. MINUSCA, in collaboration with the United Nations country team, continued to support local conflict prevention and resolution. In June, through a transhumance management system established in collaboration with MINUSCA and the International Organization of Migration, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reported a 19 per cent decrease in farmer-herder conflicts in comparison with the previous year and a 30 per cent improvement in community perceptions of transhumance dynamics, which was seen as the direct result of increased dialogue between farmers and herders.

19. Following the 17 May attacks by ex-Séléka fighters in Grevai, Nana-Gribizi Prefecture, on 20 to 23 June, a local mediation team was deployed in the area with MINUSCA support to prevent intercommunal violence between Banda and Mandja communities. An integrated action plan for the promotion of peaceful coexistence between the communities was implemented through MINUSCA programmatic funds.