1. The present report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2301 (2016), by which the Council renewed the mandate of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) until 15 November 2017 and requested me to report to the Council by 1 October 2016 and every four months thereafter. The report provides an update on major developments in the Central African Republic and the implementation of the mandate of MINUSCA since the issuance of my previous report (S/2016/824) on 29 September 2016.
II. Major developments
A. Political situation
2. The political environment was marred by rising tensions and outbreaks of violence, with an estimated 287 civilians killed in clashes between armed groups and a resurgence in crime partly linked to the onset of the dry season and seasonal migration. The tensions were exacerbated by the absence of tangible progress in tackling the root causes of the conflict and the posturing of armed group leaders seeking to strengthen their negotiating positions in view of continuing talks on disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and repatriation and parallel mediation initiatives by regional actors. The resurgent violence undermined government efforts to re-establish State authority, just as the successful Brussels Conference for the Central African Republic, held on 17 November 2016, raised popular expectations that the generous pledges would help to address the country’s acute needs. The agreement between the Government and most armed groups on the strategy on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, together with the adoption of a national security policy and an internal security forces development plan, represented important steps accepted by most Central African stakeholders, although not by all armed groups.
3. The President, Faustin Archange Touadera, continued to reach out to all actors to encourage them to pursue peace and reconciliation through dialogue. On 12 October, he convened the first meeting of the Consultative Follow-up Committee on Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration and Repatriation, which was attended by 11 of the 14 main armed groups. The Front populaire pour la renaissance de la Centrafrique (FPRC), Maxime Mokom’s anti-balaka group and the Retour, réclamation, réhabilitation (3R) group boycotted the process, although the last-mentioned later joined the Committee. Following the outbreak of violence in Kaga Bandoro between ex-Séléka and anti-balaka groups on 12 October, the President travelled with my Special Representative to the area and met a wide range of actors, including armed group representatives. While delivering a message of peace, he underscored that those responsible for the violence would be held accountable.
4. Efforts to reunite the ex-Séléka continued. The movement held a general assembly on 18 and 19 October in Bria, with the participation of FPRC, the Rassemblement patriotique pour le renouveau de la Centrafrique (RPRC) and dissidents from the Union pour la paix en Centrafrique (UPC). At the assembly, RPRC agreed to join ranks under a unified command led by the FPRC first vice-president, Noureddine Adam. The Mouvement patriotique pour la Centrafrique (MPC) and UPC boycotted the event. In the assembly’s final declaration, the participants called for dialogue with the Government and expressed the group’s intention to exercise authority in areas under its control. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation subsequently convened a meeting in Sido, Chad, on 30 and 31 October, during which it discussed with representatives of FPRC, MPC and RPRC possible approaches in negotiating with the Government. UPC rebuffed the invitation to attend the meeting. The UPC refusal to join the ranks of the FPRC coalition and its expansion in the east sparked clashes between the two groups in Ouaka and Hautte-Kotto prefectures.
5. The political situation in Bangui, although generally calm, was affected by violent demonstrations on 24 October. Subsequently, on 28 October, the President met representatives of civil society, political parties, the private sector and the religious platform. During the meeting, which was aired live by local media, he called for political dialogue and for Central Africans to recognize the inability of the military and the security forces to fully discharge their responsibilities, stressing the need for comprehensive security sector reform. Meanwhile, on 24 November, the Kwa Na Kwa political party released a statement by the former President, François Bozizé, in which he announced his intention to return to the country to pursue inclusive dialogue and reconciliation.
6. The then Deputy Secretary-General visited the country from 1 to 3 November to raise international awareness ahead of the Brussels Conference. He and the President addressed the Consultative Follow-up Committee on Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration and Repatriation and emphasized that that forum represented the sole national platform for political dialogue and addressing the grievances of the armed groups. This paved the way for the Committee’s adoption of the national disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and repatriation strategy on 3 November and its approval the following day at the first meeting of the Strategic Committee for Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration and Security Sector Reform, chaired by the President. The Strategic Committee also approved the national security policy and the five-year capacity-building and development plan for the police and the gendarmerie.
7. The Brussels Conference represented a demonstration of the international community’s commitment to the country, with more than $2.2 billion pledged in support of the National Recovery and Peacebuilding Plan. The pledges amounted to some 70 per cent of the funding required for the five years of the Plan. The Conference also witnessed the signature by the President and the then Deputy Secretary-General of the Mutual Engagement Framework, which will serve as a mechanism for continued high-level political engagement between the country and the international community.
8. The National Assembly held its ordinary session from 1 October to 31 December, during which it convened hearings with key ministers on the Government’s strategy on security and efforts to combat impunity. On 9 November, it adopted a law on gender parity aimed at achieving a 35 per cent quota for women in decision-making structures. On 28 and 29 December, it adopted the national budget for 2017, amounting to 237 billion CFA francs ($384,518,280), established its internal rules of procedure and passed legislation establishing a constitutional court and a high court. The Assembly convened an extraordinary session from 3 to 17 January during which it adopted legislation on the formation of the remaining institutions enshrined in the Constitution, including an economic and social council, a national mediation council, a high council for communication and a high committee on good governance. The holding of the election for the remaining unfilled seat in the Assembly, in the constituency of Bimbo 1, a suburb of Bangui, on 4 December completed the Assembly’s composition.
9. The President continued to reach out to his counterparts in the region and visited Angola, Burkina Faso, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon and the Sudan, where he sought support for his Government’s efforts. He also attended meetings with the Board of Governors of the African Development Bank and the sixteenth Summit of la Francophonie, held in Madagascar from 22 to 27 November 2016.
10. On 30 November, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) held the eighth extraordinary session of the Conference of Heads of State and Government, in Libreville. The participants expressed support for an African Union-led mediation initiative, in coordination with ECCAS, the United Nations and bilateral and multilateral partners, between the Government and the armed groups. In the communiqué adopted, the armed groups were called upon to lay down their weapons and join the disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and repatriation process initiated by the President.