Report of the Secretary-General on the situation in the Central African Republic (S/2016/824)

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I. Introduction

  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 that I report to the Council by 1 October 2016 and every four months thereafter. The report provides an update on the situation prevailing in the Central African Republic from the date of issuance of my previous report, 1 April 2016 (S/2016/305), to 16 September 2016, and on the implementation of the mandate of MINUSCA.

II. Major developments

A. Political developments

  1. During the reporting period, and following the successful conclusion of the political transition on 31 March that marked a return to constitutional order, the Central African Republic achieved a number of significant post-transition milestones, including the swift formation of a new Government, the establishment of the National Assembly and the launch of efforts towards the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of armed groups.

  2. Following his inauguration on 30 March, President Faustin-Archange Touadéra appointed Simplice Mathieu Sarandji as Prime Minister on 2 April. On 11 April, a new Government comprising 23 ministries was formed, followed by the appointment of senior members of the offices of the President and the Prime Minister on 18 May and 21 June, respectively. While the Government appointments were lauded as inclusive, the appointments to the offices of the President and the Prime Minister sparked criticism over the perceived exclusion of minority groups, in particular the Muslim community, and favouritism towards appointees who had served under former President François Bozizé.

  3. On 23 April, the Transitional Constitutional Court announced the final results of the second round of legislative polls, confirming the election of 128 out of a total of 140 National Assembly members. Of the 128 elected, 50 were independents and 78 were affiliated with political parties; a total of 11 women were elected overall. Following the invalidation by the Court of the results in 12 constituencies due to reported discrepancies, legislative by-elections were held on 15 May and 26 June to fill the remaining Assembly seats, with support from MINUSCA in coordination with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and international partners. On 20 July, the Court annulled the results in the constituency of Bimbo 1, a suburb of Bangui, owing to discrepancies in the voting. On 2 August, the Transitional Constitutional Court concluded its work by submitting its final report, in which it proposed elements for a draft law on the operationalization of the future Constitutional Court.

  4. On 6 May, the National Assembly elected Karim Meckassoua as its Speaker. As a former presidential candidate and a prominent member of the Muslim community, his election to the top legislative position was welcomed as a positive step towards social cohesion. During the reporting period, the National Assembly held three sessions, in which it elected its leadership, established its eight permanent commissions and debated issues of national security. Anti-balaka leader Alfred Yékatom, who is on the sanctions list of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 2127 (2013) concerning the Central African Republic, was elected as a member of the National Defence and Security Commission.

  5. Meanwhile, on 29 April, the National Electoral Authority submitted a request to MINUSCA for technical and logistical support to organize regional and municipal elections. In accordance with resolution 2301 (2016), preparations are ongoing to deploy an electoral needs assessment mission later in 2016.

  6. The Prime Minister presented the Government programme to the National Assembly on 7 June. The programme, which was adopted unanimously, outlined the following four priorities: (a) peace, security and social cohesion; (b) economic recovery; (c) politics and good governance; and (d) social affairs and humanitarian action. Following security incidents in the third and fifth districts of Bangui in June, the National Assembly convened an extraordinary session on national security from 27 June to 1 July. On that occasion, the National Assembly issued a declaration with recommendations to the Government and to the international community, including calls for the adoption of a national programme on disarmament, demobilization, repatriation and reintegration, the establishment of the Special Criminal Court and the lifting of the arms embargo.

  7. In mid-April, the President initiated a first round of consultations with representatives of armed groups, during which he urged them to disarm in order to enable national recovery and reconciliation. The President’s position that disarmament must precede participation in the political process generated frustration among ex-Séléka factions, namely, the Union pour la paix en Centrafrique (UPC), the Mouvement patriotique pour la Centrafrique (MPC) and the Front populaire pour la renaissance de la Centrafrique (FPRC), which had demanded positions in the Government and reintegration in the national security and defence forces as preconditions to negotiations on their disarmament. On 18 May, after meeting with representatives of the armed groups, the President issued a communiqué expressing satisfaction with the results of the consultations and demobilization, repatriation and reintegration, security sector reform and national reconciliation, headed by the Minister Counsellor, Jean Willybiro-Sako, as Special Coordinator. Subsequently, on 24 August, the President appointed members to an advisory and monitoring committee for the national disarmament, demobilization, repatriation and reintegration programme, including 2 members from the executive branch, 1 from the National Assembly, 2 from civil society, 3 from religious platforms, 28 from political-military groups, and 5 representatives of the international community.

  8. The President met with armed groups during visits facilitated by MINUSCA to Bouar on 6 June, Kaga-Bandoro on 6 August and Bria on 5 September. Some ex-Séléka representatives in Bria conditioned their participation in the disarmament, demobilization, repatriation and reintegration process on the implementation of more inclusive policies towards the Muslim community. On 5 September, Mr. Willybiro-Sako met with representatives of the ex-Séléka, UPC and the Rassemblement patriotique pour le renouveau de la Centrafrique (RPRC), along with anti-balaka, communal and civil society representatives in Bambari, where all expressed interest in the disarmament, demobilization, repatriation and reintegration programme.

  9. During his first months in office, the President visited Cameroon, Chad, the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and the Sudan to revitalize regional cooperation and mobilize support for his Government. The ninth meeting of the International Contact Group on the Central African Republic was held in Bangui on 25 August, under the auspices of the African Union and the Congo. Participants acknowledged the completion of the transition and the contribution of regional and international partners to the political process. They also decided to transform the International Contact Group on the Central African Republic into the International Support Group on the Central African Republic so as to continue to assist the country in its recovery.