Letter dated 30 July 2019 from the Panel of Experts on the Central African Republic extended pursuant to resolution 2454 (2019) addressed to the President of the Security Council
The members of the Panel of Experts on the Central African Republic extended pursuant to resolution 2454 (2019) have the honour to transmit herewith, in accordance with paragraph 4 of resolution 2454 (2019), 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 12 July 2019 and was considered by the Committee on 29 July 2019.
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
Panel of Experts on the Central African Republic extended pursuant to resolution 2454 (2019)
(Signed) Mélanie De Groof
(Signed) Ilyas Oussedik
(Signed) Anna Osborne
(Signed) Émile Rwagasana
Midterm report of the Panel of Experts on the Central African Republic extended pursuant to Security Council resolution 2454 (2019)
The period covered by the present report coincided with the first months of the implementation of the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic, signed in Bangui on 6 February 2019 between the Government of the Central African Republic and 14 armed groups. Among the five other agreements signed since the beginning of the crisis in late 2012, none had been the object of so much effort, both by national and international actors, to facilitate the accord’s success.
To date, all parties have continued to express their commitment to implementing the Agreement. Some armed group leaders, however, have remained ambivalent concerning their support, such as sanctioned individual Abdoulaye Hissène from the Front populaire pour la renaissance de la Centrafrique (FPRC). Others have committed serious violations of the Agreement, such as Abdoulaye Miskine, whose group, the Front démocratique du peuple centrafricain, has engaged in hostile action against the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic. It is also underlined in the report how some leaders of armed groups, namely, Ali Darassa (Union pour la paix en Centrafrique, UPC), Mahamat Al-Khatim (Mouvement patriotique pour la Centrafrique) and Souleymane Bi Sidi, alias “Abbas Sidiki” (Retour, réclamation et réhabilitation, 3R), have attempted to use some provisions of the Agreement, in particular the establishment of joint security units, as a way to legitimize their control over parts of the country.
The most serious incident since the signing of the Agreement was committed by 3R fighters in Ouham-Pendé Prefecture on 21 May 2019, where they carried out targeted attacks against civilians, killing at least 42. Serious violations of international humanitarian law have also been reported in other regions, in particular in Bria (Haute-Kotto Prefecture) and around Zangba (Basse-Kotto Prefecture), where ex-Séléka factions and anti-balaka groups were involved, among other violations, in cases of obstruction of humanitarian assistance, illegal detention and attacks against civilians. New cases of child recruitment have also been recorded.
Another factor raising doubts about the armed groups’ readiness to accept the restoration of State authority was their continued engagement in arms trafficking. Contained in the report are descriptions of the lines of supply and routes used by 3R to obtain weapons through networks based in Chad. New information is also provided on the continued acquisition of weapons by ex-Séléka factions FPRC and UPC from the territory of Chad and from elements of the Rapid Support Force operating in the Sudan.
Trafficking in gold and diamonds continued during the reporting period, both in zones declared “compliant” under the Kimberley Process, located in the west of the country, and zones controlled by armed groups in the east and the north. The report provides information on a seizure on 7 March 2019 at Bangui M’Poko International Airport of undeclared diamonds from Sam Ouandja (Haute-Kotto Prefecture) belonging to a former Séléka member. It also includes evidence on the activities of a network comprising Indian nationals and local traffickers involved in the smuggling of diamonds from Bria, in collaboration with local FPRC leaders.
Growing tensions were also noted in Bangui, with representatives of civil society and political opposition parties establishing a platform called E Zingo Biani, whose members have criticized the Government for having, among other things, appointed leaders of armed groups to key official positions. Between April and June 2019, the platform made several calls for demonstrations, which were prohibited by the authorities.
The national defence and security forces have continued to receive significant support from international partners. This facilitated the accelerated redeployment of the Forces armées centrafricaines, which nevertheless continued to face significant operational and logistical challenges during deployment, in particular in areas controlled by armed groups.
It is also underlined in the report that several private companies have imported significant volumes of commercial explosives and related material, including detonators, with the authorization of the authorities of the Central African Republic and that the storage of this explosive material does not meet international standards for safety and security.