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Midterm report of the Panel of Experts on the Central African Republic extended pursuant to Security Council resolution 2339 (2017) (S/2017/639)

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Letter dated 26 July 2017 from the Panel of Experts on the Central African Republic extended pursuant to Security Council resolution 2339 (2017) addressed to the President of the Security Council

The members of the Panel of Experts on the Central African Republic extended pursuant to resolution 2339 (2017) have the honour to transmit herewith, in accordance with paragraph 28 (c) of resolution 2339 (2017), the midterm report on their work.

The attached report was provided to the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 2127 (2013) concerning the Central African Republic on 7 July 2017 and was considered by the Committee on 21 July 2017.

The Panel of Experts would appreciate it if the present letter and its annex were brought to the attention of the members of the Security Council and issued as a document of the Council.

(Signed) Romain Esmenjaud, Coordinator Panel of Experts on the Central African Republic extended pursuant to Security Council resolution 2339 (2017)

(Signed) Melanie De Groof, Expert

(Signed) Luis Benavides, Expert

(Signed) Ilyas Oussedik, Expert

(Signed) Paul-Simon Handy, Expert

Midterm report of the Panel of Experts on the Central African Republic extended pursuant to Security Council resolution 2339 (2017)

Summary

More than one year after the election of President Touadéra, little progress has been made in addressing the root causes of the crisis in the Central African Republic.

Whereas several mediations — at times competing with one another — have been initiated, the prospects for disarmament remain distant. The Rome Agreement of 19 June 2017, the fifth agreement signed by armed groups in four years, is widely seen as a further step in the political process rather than as its completion.

In this context, while Bangui has remained relatively quiet since the demonstrations of 24 October 2016 against the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), most of the national territory remains under the control of armed groups whose activities prevent the restoration of State authority.

The security situation has deteriorated significantly owing to fighting among armed groups. Hostilities have continued in the north-west between general Sidiki’s group, Retour, réclamation, réhabilitation, and anti-balaka groups. Since November 2016, there has also been heavy fighting in the centre and the east between, on the one hand, a coalition led by the Front populaire pour la renaissance de la Centrafrique (FPRC) and, on the other, the Union pour la paix en Centrafrique (UPC). The latter fighting is primarily the result of attempts by listed individuals and FPRC leaders Abdoulaye Hissène and Nourredine Adam to reunify the ex-Séléka.

The current shifting of the fighting towards the east adds a new problem in an area where the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) remains active. This state of affairs represents a growing threat to civilians, in particular in the context of the withdrawal of the African Union Regional Task Force from the area.
Anti-balaka armed groups have emerged in new prefectures (Haute-Kotto, Haut-Mbomou) and continue to represent a major security threat, whether by pursuing local, often criminal, objectives or by being mobilized by actors with a broader political agenda, for example, Bangui-based politicians or FPRC.
Ongoing hostilities are fuelled by a regular flow of weapons through routes that have been identified in previous reports of the Panel of Experts, in particular from Chad, the Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Seizures of significant volumes of hunting ammunition produced by the Manufacture d’armes et de cartouches congolaise (MACC) from Pointe-Noire, Congo, illustrate the increase in trafficking activities along the Oubangui River.

The illegal exploitation of natural resources remains a major source of income for armed groups, not only in the east, where ex-Séléka factions fight one another for control of mining sites, but also in the west, as illustrated by the way local anti-balaka groups benefit from the new gold mine of Koro-Mpoko (Ouham prefecture). The report also provides information on the regional business interests of Abdoulaye Hissène, in particular in the trade of gold and crude oil.

The deterioration of the security situation has resulted in a marked increase in the number of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. The country is experiencing a resurgence of dangerous rhetoric that targets specific ethnic communities, in particular Fulanis. As of May 2017, the number of internally displaced persons totalled approximately 500,000 (about 10 per cent of the population), a level equivalent to that at the height of the crisis in 2014. The first half of 2017 was the deadliest with regard to attacks against peacekeepers since the establishment of MINUSCA in September 2014.

The implementation of United Nations sanctions measures remains weak. Travel ban violations continue, including by Nourredine Adam and François Bozizé. The national authorities have also failed to implement the asset freeze and several of the listed individuals continue to receive their salaries as government officials.

At the same time, the insistence of armed group leaders to include provisions for the lifting of sanctions in documents negotiated in Angola (December 2016) and Rome (June 2017) demonstrates that sanctions have an impact on their activities. In this regard, the Panel of Experts welcomes the announcement of the freezing of Abdoulaye Hissène’s assets by the Minister of Justice of Chad, on 24 June.

The national authorities of the Central African Republic continue to express contradictory views on the arms embargo. If some officials have publicly rec ognized that the embargo does not per se prevent the rearmament of the national forces, criticizing the embargo remains an effective tool for those willing to blame the United Nations for insecurity in the country.

Finally, the report provides information on the attempts to destabilize the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo by Congolese nationals connected to some ex-Séléka individuals and involved in the recruitment of fighters as well as the trafficking of military equipment on the territory of the Central African Republic.