PSC Session on the Central African Republic

Central African Republic

Date | 16 February, 2021

Tomorrow (16 February) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 980th session on the situation in Central African Republic (CAR).

The Permanent Representative of Ghana is expected to make an opening remark in her capacity as chair of the month. The Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smail Chergui, and representative of the Economic Community of the Central African States (ECCAS) are expected to provide a briefing on the situation in CAR. The representative of CAR, the A3 and the UN are also likely to deliver a statement as per the usual practice.

The last PSC session on CAR was convened during its 972nd meeting held on 24 December 2020, few days before the election day. The presidential and parliamentary elections were held on 27 December in a context of rising tension as the opposition intensifies pressure on the government despite the call of the PSC on ‘all the parties to uphold the electoral calendar defined by the National Electoral Authority (ANE) and the Constitutional Court’. According to the information note submitted to the PSC ahead of tomorrow’s session, ‘out of a set of 5,408 polling stations, around 800 were unable to open due to threats made by armed groups’. In the 4 January, preliminary results the ANE announced incumbent president Faustin-Archange Touadéra was declared winner with 53.92 % of vote, which was later certified by the Constitutional Court.

Disagreement over the electoral process between the government and opposition political and armed forces in the country demanding postponement of the elections precipitated the most serious deterioration in the political and security situation of the CAR since the 2019 AU facilitated Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic (APPR- RCA). The turning point was the establishment on 15 December 2020 of the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC), an umbrella body of six armed groups,1 with strong backing from former President François Bozizé, who, after being ousted by the Séléka armed groups in 2013 and returned to CAR after six years of exile, has been under the UN sanctions list for ‘engaging in or providing support for acts that undermine the peace, stability or security of CAR’ in the 2013 crisis.
Coming into existence not long after the rejection by the Constitutional Court of the candidacy of Bozizé for failing to meet the ‘good morals’ and ‘clean criminal record’ requirements for candidacy, CPC sought to implement the armed removal of the government. This has plunged the country once again into violent conflicts, as the CPS launched attacks capturing territories in parts of the country.

Despite PSC rejection during its 972nd session of ‘any idea or strategies aiming at unconstitutional political transition in the country,’ the members of the CPC launched attacks in various parts of the country including Bossangoa (25 December 2020) Bangassou (3 January), Damara (3 January), and Bouar and Grimari (7-9 January). The attempt of the CPC to violently capture the capital city Bangui on 13 January, which claimed the lives of many people including seven UN peacekeepers, was averted by the intervention of UN troops and the CAR military with backing from Rwandan and Russian troops. The CAR forces and MINUSCA also (reportedly backed by Rwandan and Russian troops) managed to repulse several attacks and recaptured key towns from the armed groups, notably Bangassou (some 450 miles from Bangui bordering DRC).

Despite their unsuccessful attempt to capture Bangui, the armed groups have besieged the capital city by blocking strategic roads. Of particular interest to the Council would be the blockage of Bangui-Garoua Boulaï corridor, the main supply route for the capital Bangui and the entire country. According to media reports, thousands of trucks have been stranded on the border with Cameroon carrying food, medicine and humanitarian aid, causing spike in food price (more than 50% rise in some places) and exacerbating the already dire humanitarian situation. The severe shortage of supplies including food items that this has resulted in raises the issue of the use by armed groups of starvation as a method of war, which constitutes violation of international humanitarian law.

The security deterioration ultimately forced the government to declare a 15-days state of emergency across the country on 21 January, which was extended for six months before its expiry on 4 February.

The eruption of the armed rebellion, which disrupted the conduct of the election in some parts of the country, represents a major blow to the 2019 APPR-RCA, particularly the pledge of the signatory armed groups in Article 5 ‘to renounce the recourse to weapons and violence’. Without urgent and firm collective action to arrest this situation, the peace agreement faces a major risk of collapse, reversing the security gains achieved.

Given the role of the AU and ECCAS as guarantors of the political agreement, tomorrow’s session offers the PSC with the opportunity to explore ways and means of salvaging the peace process. A welcome development that would interest the PSC in this respect is ECCAS decision to establish a ‘permanent mediation framework for a lasting peace in CAR’ and appoint a ‘Permanent Mediator of the Central Africa Crisis’ at the extraordinary session of the Conference of Heads of State and Government of ECCAS on the situation in CAR held on 26 December 2020. Also of interest for the PSC is the 8 January press release by armed groups not affiliated to the rebel CPC, which after consultation with the guarantors and facilitators of the political agreement, reassured their commitment to respect the APPR-RCA and called for the latter to invoke article 35 of the agreement relating to sanctions.

In the briefing from ECCAS representative, PSC members may be interested to know the progress towards the establishment and operationalization of the mediation framework as well as the appointment of a mediator.

Yet, confounding an already dire situation, a union of several political parties, Democratic Opposition Coalition (COD-2020), rejected the result and called for its annulment claiming widespread irregularity and low voter turnout because of insecurity. In a joint statement made on 5 January, Jean-Pierre Lacroix (UN Under-Secretary- General for Peace Operations), Smaїl Chergui (AU Commissioner for Peace and Security), Gilberto Da Piedade Veríssimo (President of the Commission of ECCAS), and Josep Borrell (High Representative of EU for Foreign Affairs) called for political actors to respect the final results of the presidential election, and engage in political dialogue. Similarly, the mini-summit of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), held on 29 January in Luanda, called on all parties to resolve differences through dialogue.

The worsening humanitarian situation is also likely to feature in the PSC discussion. According to the latest report by OCHA (United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs), the violence internally displaced north of 240,000 while the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)) reported some 105,000 individuals fleeing to the neighboring countries, mainly to DRC, as of late January. OCHA’s report further highlights that in 2021, 2.8 million out of the total population 4.9 million (more than half of the population) require humanitarian assistance and protection.

Following the loss of lives of civilians, CAR partner forces and MINUSCA peacekeepers, the UN Security Council (UNSC), in a statement issued following the 18 January attacks, not only condemned the act but also warned parties that ‘attacks against peacekeepers may constitute war crimes.’ It is to be recalled that the PSC during its 936th meeting convened on 10 July 2020, requested CAR’s government, together with MINUSCA and the two guarantors of the APPR-RCA to conduct an investigation of the attacks against government forces, MINUSCA, humanitarian agencies and civilians.

The expected outcome is a communique. The PSC is likely to take note of the final results of the December presidential election as proclaimed by the Constitutional Court on 18 January, and congratulate President Touadéra on his re-election. The PSC may reaffirm the APPR-CAR as the only peace framework within which the crisis in the CAR has to be resolved comprehensively. The PSC is expected to reiterate from its 972nd session its strong condemnation of the collusion of Bozizé ‘with some armed groups (in launching) a rebellion warfare against the government and UN peacekeepers (MINUSCA) which resulted in blatant human rights violations, war crimes and crimes against humanity for which he will be held personally accountable.’ Also of significance for the PSC to follow is the recommendation in the information note for tomorrow’s session for the PSC to request the AU Commission, having regard to Article 35 of the APPR-RCA, ‘to set up its own sanction regime and implement it effectively, in collaboration with Regional Economic Communities, targeting all those, including former President Bozize, who are violating the peace agreement and International Humanitarian Law, those providing them with materiel aid, as well as those individuals, groups or entities involved in the trafficking of CAR’s mineral and other natural resources.’ The PSC may urge the armed groups for the immediate halt to the blockage of the Cameroon-Bangui corridor and welcome the efforts of MINUSCA, CAR and partner forces to restore this key road connection.

The Council may welcome the announcement of the newly re-elected president for an inclusive dialogue and may in this context call on all political actors in CAR to respond positively and engage in a constructive political dialogue to resolve their grievances. The PSC may call on ECCAS to work with the AU and others on its proposed establishment of a permanent mediation framework for supporting CAR political forces, with all regional and international coordinating their engagement, within the framework of the APPR-RCA. Paying tribute to MINUSCA peacekeepers, the PSC is expected to condemn the attacks against civilians and MINUSCA forces and reiterate the call it has made during its 936th session for investigation of the attacks to adopt appropriate sanctions against perpetrators. The Council may also express its grave concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation and call international community to step-up the effort in providing humanitarian assistance, including by filling in the huge humanitarian financial gap due to the meager receipt of 8 percent of the requested US$ 444.7 million.


1(Unity for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC) of Ali Darassa, Patriotic Movement for the Central African Republic (MPC) of Al Khatim, the Return, Reclamation and Rehabilitation Movement (3R) of Abas Sidiki, part of the Popular Front for the rebirth of the Central African Republic (FPRC) led by Nourredine Adam, the anti balakas (Ailes Maxime Mokom and N’Gaissona) and the RJ Sayo Movement).


Report of the Commission on the Peace Process in the Central African Republic

Central African Republic

Date | 9 May, 2019

Tomorrow (9 May) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will receive a briefing by the Commissioner of Peace and Security Smail Chergui on the peace process in the Central African Republic (CAR) and the implementation of the peace agreement. The UN is expected to participate in providing a briefing. Ambassador Hope Tumukunde Gasatura is also expected to make a statement as the Chair of the month.

It is expected that the PSC will receive the Report of the Chairperson of the Commission on the peace process in the Central African Republic. The focus of the report and the session is expected to be the peace process in particular the Global Peace Agreement in the Central African Republic, signed by the CAR government and 14 armed groups in Bangui on 6 February and the follow up to the agreement as well as AU’s role in this respect.

The 826th PSC session that was held at a ministerial level on the margins of the 32nd AU Summit made a decision ‘to carry out a quarterly review of the situation in the CAR and the implementation of the Political Agreement and requests the Commission to report to Council on the progress made’. In line with this decision Chergui is expected to provide an update on the contents of the agreement and its implementation.

Although CAR did not feature regularly on the agenda of the PSC in 2018, tomorrow’s session will be the fourth briefing on CAR which the PSC will be receiving since the beginning of 2019. At the AU Commission level as well there has been a vast engagement and leadership in brokering the peace process . It is to be recalled that the peace deal was the outcome of the Direct Dialogue facilitated by the AU together with the UN and held in Khartoum, from 24 January to 5 February 2019.

When Chergui briefed the UN Security Council on 21 February, he indicated that the peace agreement was successful in bringing the government and armed groups to meet face to face for the first time and in tackling the root cause of the conflict including access to justice, fair distribution of national wealth and inclusivity in all state institutions. Moreover an important element of the agreement was the decision to establish a follow-up process to ensure the implementation of commitments by actors party to the agreement.

Indeed the establishment of this monitoring mechanism will play a critical role in the success and sustainability of the peace agreement and the Chergui may provide update in this regard.
Other provisions include contentious issues such as justice. The parties have agreed to set up a commission endowed with the mandate of reviewing all issues pertaining to conflict- related issues of justice. The commission is expected to submit its recommendations to the Commission on Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation, the National Assembly and the follow-up mechanism. The parties also agreed on the creation of mixed brigades, comprising former armed group members and national defense forces, with the responsibility to protect the borders of the country, among other tasks. Chergui may also provide update on the progress made particularly in the security arrangements under the agreement. It would also be of interest for member states to hear Chergui’s assessment of the challenges that the peace agreement faces.

After the Khartoum agreement, Fermin Ngrebada, the chief government negotiator, was appointed the new prime minister. Despite the welcome, this revealed the subsequent appointment of members of the cabinet ensued in a disagreement. All the ministries considered strategic including the prime minister office were kept by the incumbent government representatives. Despite the inclusion of ten of the 14 armed opposition groups signatories of the peace agreement, the perception of lack of inclusivity in the cabinet led to the rejection by two signatories of the agreement.

In an attempt to resolve this disagreement, the AU Commission brought to Addis Ababa for talks the government of CAR and the 14 armed groups from 18-20 March. At the end of the talks, the parties agreed on the inclusion of three representatives of armed groups in the government.

On 24 March a precedential decree officially appointed the armed groups leaders
Ali Darassa, leader of the Union for Peace in the Central African Republic, Mahamat Al Khatim, leader of the Central African Patriotic Movement, and Sidiki Abass, commander of the group Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation, as special military advisers to the prime minister’s office.

The implications of such appointments and arrangement on the sustainability of the peace agreement are yet to be seen and it is expected to be one of the key components of the progress update that Chergui is expected to provide to PSC members. From the perspective of PSC members, it would also be of interest to learn about the arrangements under the peace agreement for mechanism for the resolution of disputes that arise over the peace agreement and the implications of the role of the AU as a guarantor of the peace agreement.

The other aspect that may be raised in the Chairperson’s report is the outcome of the joint mission that was undertaken by AU, UN and EU and the second meeting of the International Support Group for CAR that was held in April. The aim of the mission was to support the initial phase of implementation of political agreement. The delegation held extensive consultations with the government, armed groups and other stakeholders. PSC members may in this regard wish to receive the assessment of Chergui about the commitment of the parties.

Another area of interest for PSC members relate to the role of the joint engagement of the leadership of the AU and the UN in facilitating and supporting the peace agreement. The recent appointment of AU and UN representatives in CAR offers an opportunity to enhance joint support for the political dialogue. The AU has appointed Matias Bertino Matondo, as the new Special Representative and Head of Office for the AU Office in CAR and the UN has appointed Mankeur Ndiaye, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). The collaboration of the two new heads of mission of the two organizations is expected to complement the political processes that are led jointly from Addis Ababa and New York. It is to be recalled that Chergui in his briefing at the UNSC has also underlined the importance of aligning the mandate of MINUSCA with the security provisions in the peace agreement. These steps require a coordinated and harmonized approach among the various offices to ensure and support the successful implementation of the commitments.

The cooperation between the AU and the UN is also essential in light of the recent developments at the UNSC on the process towards the suspension or the progressive lifting of the arms embargo on the government of CAR. The UNSC has established key benchmarks with regards to the reform of the security sector (SSR) and disarmament demobilization, reintegration and repatriation (DDRR) in CAR. The criteria include the implementation of the National Program for DDRR, establishment of arm registration and protocol for the management of illicit weapons. The performance of the government against the set benchmarks and the assessment that will be undertaken by the UN will inform the review of the arms embargo by 30 September 2019.
The expected outcome of the session is a press statement. It is expected that member states would express their support for the peace agreement and the role that the AU in collaboration with the UN plays in supporting the agreement. The Council may urge parties to comply with the commitments they made under the peace agreement and it may request the Commission to provide further updates on the peace process within the framework of the terms set in the communiqué of the 826th session of the PSC.


AU-UN briefing on joint field visits to the CAR and Sudan (Darfur)

Central African Republic

Date | 10 October, 2019

Tomorrow (10 October 2019) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is scheduled to receive a briefing from Smail Chergui, AU Commissioner for Peace and Security and Jean‐Pierre Lacroix, UN Under Secretary‐General for Peacekeeping Operations. The two senior officials are expected to provide updates on the political and security developments in the Central African Republic (CAR) and the situation in Sudan, particularly as it relates to the joint UN‐AU Mission to Darfur (UNAMID).

The briefing by Chergui and Lacroix follows the joint visit to the CAR and Sudan. The joint visit to the CAR, where the AU leads the African Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation in the CAR and the UN runs a mission, took place from 4 to 7 October 2019 and involved, apart from Chergui and Lacroix, Koen Vervaeke, Director General for Africa of the European Union External Action Service. This mission follows another joint mission that Chergui and Lacroix undertook to the CAR in April 2019. It aimed at reviewing progress made and challenges faced in the implementation of the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic, signed on 6 February 2019 following negotiations in Khartoum Sudan that Chergui facilitated.
During the visit, the mission met with Faustin Archange Touadera, President of the CAR and Firmin Ngrebada, Prime Minister of the CAR. The mission also held discussions with political party leaders, civil society organizations and representatives of diplomatic missions and regional and international organizations. It also received briefings from the civilian and military leaders of the field offices of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).

The joint field mission learned that progress has been made in the effort to restore state authority in the CAR. These include the establishment of all Prefects in the 16 prefectures, majority of sub‐prefects, the Technical Safety Committees, Prefectural Implementation Committees and the slow but progressive deployment of the Defense and Security Forces. In his address at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) annual general debate on 29 September, President Touadera told the members of the UN that progress made in the implementation of the peace agreement is modest.

The joint visit also came against the background of continuing violations and fragility of the February agreement. As President Touadera pointed out in his UNGA address CAR remains fragile with armed groups continuing ‘to supply war materials and ammunition illegally’ and committing ‘massive and repeated violations of international humanitarian and human rights law’. In one of the major incidents of violations on 21 May, one of the armed rebel groups 3R ((Retour, Réclamation et Réhabilitation) engaged in armed attacks against civilians killing at least 42 people. In the briefing to the UN Security Council (UNSC) on 20 June, the UNSC was informed that ‘every week, 50 to 70 violations of the peace agreement are reported, committed mainly by armed groups against civilians. Violence against civilians, illegal taxation, the obstruction of the deployment of State authority and the occupation of public buildings continue and are a source of deep frustration for the people of the Central African Republic.’

The press statement issued at the end of the joint mission ‘expressed concern over the continuing hostile acts in the country’. The mission also condemned ‘the clashes between armed groups in Birao […] resulting in the displacement of more than 15,000 people’ and ‘the persistence of violations of the Peace Agreement and human rights in other parts of the country, particularly in the northwest in the recent period.’

As the implementation process thus far demonstrated, the foremost challenge facing the agreement relates to the implementation of the security provisions. It would be of particular interest for PSC members on the mission’s assessment of the major issues for the implementation of the security provisions and steps to be taken for addressing them. Also, of interest is how to reduce and eventually put an end to all forms of violence in the CAR, particularly violence targeting civilians.

Following the visit to the CAR, Chergui and Lacroix have also been on a joint filed visit to Sudan with a focus on the joint UN‐AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). As with the visit to the CAR, this mission also followed the joint mission that the two senior AU and UN officials undertook to Darfur, Sudan in April 2019. This joint field mission came after the formation of the new transitional government of Sudan headed by the Sovereign Council and Prime Minister Abdela Hamdok and ahead of the renewal by the UNSC of the mandate of UNAMID before its expiry on 31 October. It is to be recalled that the PSC renewed UNAMID’s mandate for a further period of one‐ year last June.

The joint mission has been undertaken for a period of two days during 8 and 9 October. The visit focused on various issues relating to UNAMID including the drawdown of the mission, planning for a transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding, next steps for the Darfur peace process, and post‐UNAMID engagement. During the mission, Chergui and Lacroix together with the representatives of the Government of Sudan held the 27th meeting of the Tripartite Coordination Mechanism on UNAMID in Khartoum on 8 October. This focused on assessing UNAMID’s operations and the progress in the drawdown of UNAMID.

Chergui and Lacroix also travelled to El Fahser, Darfur. They interacted with Sudan officials, women’s groups and UNAMID officials focusing on issues requiring attention for consolidation of peace in Darfur, particularly in the context of the planned exit of UNAMID and the transition to peacebuilding. They have been informed from the leadership of North Darfur Major General Malik Al‐Tayeb that the priority issues for the region include reconciliation and reconstruction works including those necessary for provision of social services such as health and education. During their meeting with Darfur Women’s Protection Network, various issues affecting women have been highlighted. One of the issues they raised which is of particular importance within the framework of UNSC Resolution 1325 was the participation of women in the Darfur peace process.

The visit also covers meetings with the authorities in Khartoum taking place on 9 October. Apart from the process of the exit of UNAMID, issues for discussion with the new transitional government included responsible handing over of responsibilities to Sudan authorities and the UN country team, peacebuilding needs for consolidating peace in Darfur and post‐UNAMID engagement.

Head of new government, Prime Minister Abdela Hamdok highlighted the achievement of peace in Sudan as one of the priorities of his government and to this end he initiated a process for engaging the various armed groups in Sudan, including those in Darfur. On 11 September, after talks facilitated by South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, Sudan government and Sudanese armed opposition groups signed roadmap for peace called ‘The Juba Declaration of Confidence Building Measures and the Preparation for Negotiation.’ During a visit to France, PM Hamdok met with the Sudan Liberation Army leader Abdel Wahid al Nur on 29 September in an effort to encourage the SLA leader to join the peace effort under the new political environment in Sudan.

While the negotiated power‐sharing agreement of 17 August that led to the formation of the new transitional government in Sudan and its peace efforts are welcome developments, it would be of interest to PSC members to learn from Chergui and Lacroix whether there is a need for making any adjustment to the UNAMID exit plan in the light of the changes in Sudan. In the communique of its 856th session, the PSC stated that ‘UNAMID exit should not create a vacuum and expose the long‐ suffering civilian population to renewed risks.’

At the timing of going to press, the outcome of the briefing session was unknown. In respect of the CAR, it is particularly important for the AU, UN and EU to mobilize coordinated and sustained in country engagement targeting in particular the 14 rebel groups parties to the peace agreement and help in putting in place mechanisms to support local reconciliation efforts and to leverage the influence of neighboring countries particularly Chad and Sudan for compliance of armed groups with the peace agreement. As far as Sudan is concerned, apart from the assessment on the various issues highlighted above, there is expectation for identifying clear roadmap on the options to be pursued in supporting the peace process in Darfur and importantly the form that the AU‐UN engagement may take upon the departure of UNAMID.


Consideration of the Situation in the Central African Republic

Central African Republic

Date | 10 July, 2020

Tomorrow (10 July) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is scheduled to have a session on the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR). The session is expected to consider a report on the situation in the CAR through video teleconference meeting.

The AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smail Chergui is expected to introduce the report and brief the PSC on the situation in the CAR. The representatives of the CAR and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) are also expected to make statements during the open segment of the session.

One of the issues on which members of the PSC expect to be briefed on is the status of the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID19) in the CAR and its impact on the peace and security situation in the CAR. The number of confirmed cases, while relatively law, jumped from 301 on 15 May to 1,888 cases in mid June, registering notable spike in less than a month. The COVID19 response measures in the CAR and globally resulted in significant consequences, leading to rise in cost of food items and disruption of distribution of humanitarian assistance to the displaced and those in need of support. PSC members would also be interested to hear about the impact of COVID19 on AU’s role in the CAR including on the activities of the AU Office in the Central African Republic.

In terms of the situation in the country, it is of major interest for the PSC to hear from Chergui and the CAR representative on the national elections scheduled for December 2020 and the preparations being undertaken in this respect. The country has faced political uncertainty due to opposing views between government and opposition parties on the convening of the elections as scheduled. Following a proposal in parliament for extension of the term of office of the President and parliament if the schedule for elections were to be postponed due to COVID19, the Constitutional Court of the CAR held in its ruling of 5 June that the postponement of the schedule for election would be unconstitutional and any change to the electoral calendar should be based on broad consultations and consensus among all the concerned stakeholders.

While there are many political parties in the CAR, two major coalitions have been formed. On 11 February, 14 opposition parties formed the Coalition de l’opposition démocratique with the proclaimed objective of ensuring free, fair, inclusive and timely elections. On 15 May, 34 out of 42 parties associated with the presidential majority launched the “Be Oko” or “Les coeurs unis” (United Hearts) political platform to counterweigh the opposition Coalition de l’opposition démocratique platform. The intention of the United Hearts platform is to rally behind one candidate for the presidential elections and agree on candidates for the legislative elections. While thus far four political leaders announced their candidacy for the presidency, it remains unclear whether the former president of the country François Bozizé will run as president and the impact that this may have for the country.

Given the COVID19 situation and CAR’s pre- existing institutional and logistical challenges, one of the major issues for the PSC to address with respect to the preparations for the elections is determining the technical and logistical needs of the CAR and how the AU could contribute, within the framework of its electoral support to member states, towards meetings these technical and logistical needs of the CAR. Some legislative measures, notably the law on the National Electoral Authority, have is yet to be finalized. Despite remaining legislative and institutional gaps and logistical challenges, there are also encouraging progress in implementing preparatory works. The National Electoral Authority published a revised electoral calendar on 29 April that adhered to constitutional timelines. On 20 May, the Government issued two decrees crucial for the timely holding of the elections. The first set the voter registration period from 22 June to 28 July, with the final voter list released in September. The second specified that the diaspora of the CAR would be allowed to vote.

It is to be recalled that the PSC in the statement of its 884th session ‘urged the Central African actors to scrupulously comply with the upcoming dates of the elections to be held in 2020/2021 and to ensure that they are free, fair, credible and peaceful, and rejected any idea relating to a new transition.’ Underscoring the importance of the participation of various stakeholders, the PSC further reaffirmed ‘the need for all the parties to work in good faith for the organization of the elections,’ which the PSC deemed priority in ‘consolidating the democratic gains and stability in the country’.

Another major issue for tomorrow’s session is the implementation of the February 2019 peace agreement for the CAR. In urging all stakeholders to support the peace agreement, the PSC in the statement of its 884th session stated that the agreement ‘remained the sole path for the restoration of a lasting peace in the whole country.’ Chergui is expected to inform the members of the PSC not only on the state of implementation of the peace agreement but also the outcome of a joint videoconference he, the Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy held with the President of the CAR on 8 June 2020.

Three issues are of immediate interest to the PSC. The first is the impact of COVID19 on the implementation of the peace agreement. Chergui pointed out in an op ed that implementation of (aspects of) the peace process took a backseat due to COVID19 measures. Apart from the suspension of the formal follow-up mechanisms of the Agreement following the COVID-19 outbreak, other activities affected by the pandemic and the response measures include the implementation of disarmament and demobilization and the establishment of special mixed security units. Despite these COVID19 induced disruptions, with support from AU, ECCAS and UN, the government continued to have high-level engagement with armed group leaders.

The second issue, which has been a major issue of concern when the PSC met on the CAR the last time, is recurring incidents of violations of the peace agreement. In his report of June 2020 to the UN Security Council, the UN Secretary- General observed that ‘progress was undermined by a resurgence of violence perpetrated by armed groups, particularly in Birao, Bria, Ndélé and Obo.’ Despite the decrease in the number of violations of the peace agreement observed in the UN Secretary-General’s report ‘from 575 to 504 compared with the previous reporting period’, various acts of violence including clashes between armed groups have continued to affect various parts of the country. These acts of violence have mostly affected civilians. According to the Secretary-General’s report, ‘[c]ivilians were the target of more than half of the violations (286). Others affected by the violence and fighting involving armed groups include humanitarian actors and members of the UN mission to the CAR, MINUSCA.’ It is to be recalled that the PSC ‘stressed the imperative need for all signatories to scrupulously comply with the provisions of the APPR, including the cessation of hostilities throughout the entire territory, warning that ‘those who would seek to impede the implementation of the Agreement’ …would be held accountable.’

The third and final issue with respect to the peace process is the progress made towards its implementation. The UN Secretary General pointed out in his June 2020 report that ‘the National Assembly adopted several laws required under the Agreement, including on political parties and the status of the opposition; the creation of the Commission on Truth, Justice, Reparation and Reconciliation; the status of former Heads of State; and the first of a two-part law on local authorities and decentralization.’

The expected outcome of the session is a communiqué. The PSC is expected to express its concern over the impact of COVID19 on the situation in the CAR including in the implementation of the peace process. In this respect, the PSC may reiterate its call for mobilizing support for the CAR not only in addressing COVID19 but also in limiting its impact on the implementation of the peace agreement. The PSC welcoming the progress registered in the preparation for the elections scheduled to take place in December 2020 could reiterate the importance of the elections and the need for sustaining the preparations for holding the elections within the constitutional timelines while upholding the participation of all the stakeholders. The Council could also urge the AU to scale up its electoral support for the CAR including in providing technical support for the national electoral commission and other actors. In terms of the peace process, the PSC, while welcoming the progress made in implementing the various dimensions of the agreement, could underscore the need for achieving cessation of hostilities in the CAR and urge the AU, working with ECCAS, the UN and the European Union, to enhance support for political dialogue and community peace efforts in the CAR. The PSC could also reiterate its earlier call for the convening of the International Contact Groups for the CAR, among others, for mobilizing collective and coordinated support for the electoral process.