Briefing on the situation in CAR

Briefing on the situation in CAR

Date | 13 June 2023

Tomorrow (13 June) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) will convene its 1157th session to consider the current situation in Central Africa Republic (CAR).

Following opening remarks by Sophia Nyamudeza, Permanent Representative of Zimbabwe and Chairperson of the PSC for the month of June, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye is expected to make a statement. Representative of CAR, as the concerned country and representatives of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and the United Nations (UN) are also expected to make statements.

The last time the PSC met to discuss the situation in CAR and the operations of the AU Military Observer Mission to the Central African Republic (MOUACA) was at its 1116th session held on 31 October 2022. PSC members welcomed the progress made towards the implementation of the 2019 Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the CAR and the roadmap adopted by ICGLR in support of this Agreement. With respect to MOUACA whose full operationalisation could not be realised, the PSC decided at the 1116th meeting for the initiation of gradual drawdown and closure of the mission as its mandate becomes integrated within the AU Mission in the Central African Republic (MISAC).

The PSC meeting tomorrow, among other things, is expected to follow up on the progress made since its previous session in terms of the implementation of the 2019 Political Agreement and the ICGLR roadmap. On 4 June 2022, a strategic review meeting took place in Bangui in the presence of the Angolan and Rwandan foreign ministers, as well as other international and regional partners, to take stock of the progress and challenges in this regard. This was followed by a series of coordination meetings that took place under the chairmanship of CAR Prime Minister Félix Moloua with the objective of accelerating the implementation of the roadmap.

On 14 September 2022, the government and the representatives of armed groups that are signatories to the political agreement discussed the possible dissolution of these armed groups.  Subsequently, CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadéra presided over a ceremony held on 6 December 2022 to mark the dissolution of four armed groups that are signatories to the Political Agreement. However, there has not been much progress in engagement between the government and other armed groups, particularly the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC), the main coalition of armed groups in the CAR.

There are indeed growing concerns about the increasing military activities of armed groups with the onset of the dry season and the tensions along the border particularly with Chad and Sudan. On 9 February 2023, Angolan President João Lourenço who is the current chair of ICGLR, hosted President Touadéra and Transitional Chadian President Mahamat Idriss Déby in Luanda where the two leaders agreed to work together to address security issues between their countries. The PSC had underscored the need to address the situation of the leaders of the CPC present in Chad in order to find a rapid solution and, following the Luanda meeting between Touadéra and Déby, former CAR president François Bozizé, who leads the CPC left N’Djamena for Guinea-Bissau.

In January 2023, Sudan announced that it was closing its borders with CAR because of concerns over unnamed actors operating on the Sudanese side of the border to plot regime change in the CAR. The situation is now much more complicated with the ongoing fighting in Sudan and the influx of refugees and returnees to the CAR. According to OCHA, 13,824 people, including 3,456 Central African returnees have crossed the border into CAR because of the fighting, and this number is expected to rise. The northeast part of CAR depends on Sudan for supplies, but border traffic is reportedly disrupted due to insecurity and this has significantly increased the price of basic commodities, according to OCHA. With CAR’s western partners having suspended financial aid over the regime’s involvement with Russia, the economic and humanitarian situation is made worse as CAR is unable to mobilize funds for filling in the resultant financial shortfall.

The other issue expected to receive attention during tomorrow’s session is the electoral preparations that are underway. CAR is expected to hold local elections for the first time since 1988.  The first round of local elections is set to take place on 16 July and the second round on 15 October. However, the CAR government is facing a budget shortfall in organizing these elections and the PSC had directed the AU Commission to continue to provide the necessary support for the success of this electoral process, including the possibility of allocation of resources from the Peace Fund. Other partners appear to be reluctant to provide funding because of concerns that the money might be used to organize a constitutional referendum that is being planned by the CAR government. The prime minister is said to have assured the UN that local elections will not be combined with any eventual referendum on the Constitution.

The issue of the constitutional referendum was raised at the republican dialogue that was convened by the CAR government from 22 to 27 March 2022. The proposal was for a revision of the constitution to lift the two-term limit of the president but this was rejected by the opposition and civil society representatives. Although the proposal was excluded from the final report of the republican dialogue, the CAR government established a committee in August 2022 to draft a new constitution. The current constitution, adopted in 2016 following popular consultations, does not allow the president to run for a third term and the CAR Constitutional Court declared the review process unconstitutional and invalidated the decree establishing the drafting committee and the government’s decision in September 2022. Subsequently, President Touadéra removed the president of the Constitutional Court, Danièle Darlan, in October 2022.

Regarding MOUACA whose operation has been terminated in line with the communiqué of PSC’s 1116th meeting, it may interest the PSC to follow-up on the progress made in the integration of its key mandates within the framework of activities undertaken by MISAC. At the 1116th session, the PSC decided to dispatch a ‘Multidisciplinary Mission comprising technical experts, including members of the Military Staff Committee (MSC) and human rights specialists’ to liquidate MOUACA and strengthen MISAC to implement MOUACA’s mandate. In addition to its core purpose of monitoring, evaluating and supporting the overall implementation of the 2019 Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in CAR, MOUACA was also tasked with assessing progress of the activities of the Joint Special Security Units (USMS) and contributing towards efforts in the areas of protection of civilians and protection of resources necessary for CAR’s economic recovery. MISAC   has been facing challenges related to shortage of resources and the requisite technical capacity over the past many years. Tomorrow’s briefing presents the PSC the opportunity to receive updates in respect to addressing challenges facing MISAC.

The UN Security Council is expected to extend the 2127 CAR sanctions regime in July.  In connection with the sanction on CAR, the PSC already expressed its support for the lifting of the arms embargo imposed on CAR. Last year, the Security Council further eased the arms embargo by providing some exemptions but five members (China, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, and Russia) abstained on the vote. Next month, the CAR government supported by the three African members and other like-minded members such as Russia and China are likely to push for the lifting of the notification requirement similar to what the Security Council did in December 2022 regarding the 1533 Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) sanctions regime. The Chair of the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Harold Agyeman (Ghana) has visited the country last week to engage in discussion with the CAR authorities and other relevant stakeholders in relation to the implementation of the sanctions regime.

The expected outcome of the session is a Communiqué. The PSC may welcome steps taken towards implementing the 2019 Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in CAR and call on all CAR stakeholders to be part of the agreement and advance its full realisation. The PSC may in this regard note the need for enhanced support to MISAC for its effective role in carrying out the mandates of the former MOUACA, specifically in monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the Political Agreement. It may also welcome preparations being made to organise local elections for the first time in decades and call on the AU Commission to support the CAR for the successful conduct of the election in a credible and transparent manner and in CAR’s efforts to mobilize the requisite funds for conducting the elections. The PSC may express concern over increasing tensions and military activities, particularly in border areas, threatening the relative stability the country has experienced in recent years. It may further note the destructive potential of a constitutional referendum that does not have the full support of all relevant actors and is contrary to democratic principles and in light of that, it may encourage the CAR government to refrain from making moves that may destabilise and lead the country backward. The PSC may also express grave concern over the worsening humanitarian and economic crises in CAR and appeal to the international community to extend assistance. The PSC may welcome the visit that the Chair of the 2127 CAR Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Harold Agyeman (Ghana), undertook to the CAR. Reiterating its earlier call for lifting of sanctions on the CAR, the PSC may call on the UNSC to lift the notification requirement.

Update on the situation in CAR and the operations of MOUACA

Update on the situation in CAR and the operations of MOUACA

Date | 31 October 2022

Tomorrow (31 October), the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1116th session to receive updates on the situation in the Central Africa Republic (CAR) and operations of the AU Military Observer Mission in CAR (MOUACA).

Following opening remarks of the Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Morocco to the AU and Chairperson of the PSC for the month, H.E. Ambassador Mohammed Arrouchi, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS), Bankole Adeoye is expected to deliver a statement. Special Representative of the AU Commission Chairperson (SRCC) for CAR, Bertino Matias Matondo will also brief Council. Representative of CAR, as the concerned country, and representative of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), as Chair of Economic Community of East African States (ECCAS) are also expected to make statements.

The last time Council met to assess the situation in CAR and operations of MOUACA was at its 1093rd session convened on 25 July 2022. Having deliberated on developments in relation to the political, security and humanitarian situations in the country including implementation of peace processes and status of operations of MOUACA, Council underscored key action points at the session, including for the AU Commission to report back to it before the end of October 2022, on issues relating to financial support and continuation of activities of MOUACA, based on consultations with relevant actors. Tomorrow’s session serves to follow up on this and other decisions of the 1093rd meeting.

CAR’s political climate largely remains tense and charged with contentions between the government, opposition political parties and armed groups intensifying. Despite the convening of a republican dialogue launched by President Touadera in March 2022 with the hopes of resolving some of the existing differences in CAR’s political processes and peace and reconciliation efforts, the dialogue seems to have created additional controversies while failing to outline concreate proposals that can advance prompt national reconciliation, consolidation of peace and economic recovery for CAR. The dialogue which involved 450 participants and ended with over 600 recommendations – majority of which are identical to those adopted at the 2015 Bangui Forum but apparently remain unimplemented – demonstrated the extent to which absence of adequate structures and serious commitment for implementation contributes to the continuation of CAR’s crisis.

In addition, the dialogue was conducted in the absence of key opponents and rebel armed groups. The Democratic Opposition Coalition (COD-2020), an alliance of political opposition groups which has been very vocal in contesting the conditions under which the controversial elections of December 2020 took place, was among the political groups that boycotted the dialogue. Despite various stakeholders’ position that involving armed groups in the dialogue would be essential, the government stood its ground that these groups excluded themselves from the national reconciliation process when they took up arms. As a result, armed actors including the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC), were not part of the dialogue.

Aside from lack of inclusivity, there were also suspicions on the side of opposition groups that the republican dialogue would be used to advance the ruling party’s agenda of constitutional amendment with the purpose of securing another term in office for the incumbent President. Proving these suspicions correct, a proposal for constitutional amendment was made at the dialogue, although the proposal was reportedly withdrawn before the final adoption of the recommendations. Regardless, a constitutional referendum to bring amendments to CAR’s constitution was announced on 12 August 2022 by President Touadera, an initiative proposed by the National Assembly’s presidential majority. This was followed by rampant opposition group protests while the government also organised public demonstrations in support of amending the constitution.

Among other points, the proposed constitutional amendment included the removal of presidential term limits; modification of the composition of the Constitutional Court as to allow membership to Heads of State; and prohibition of dual citizenship for presidential candidates. On 23 September 2022, the CAR Constitutional Court blocked the constitutional referendum process through the adoption of a decision that nullifies a series of presidential decrees that aimed to establish a constitution drafting committee. On 25 October, President Touadera fired the Head of the Constitutional Court citing a 2017 Regulation to the effect of declaring the judge to be subject to “definitive preclusion” from office. The president’s move has been labelled by oppositions as a “constitutional coup” intended to extend his term in office. A critical point to reflect on for PSC members with regards to these developments is that further to impeding progress in CAR’s national reconciliation and peace consolidation processes, they also entail new challenges including a possible coup which will further complicate the existing situation.

Added to this political context, the deteriorating security situation continues to challenge implementation of the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation (PAPR) in CAR. This has been apparent from the hundreds of violations of the agreement that continue to be recorded. The most recent available data recorded by the UN presents 431 violations of the PAPR as of 01 October 2022, a substantial increase from the 374 violations recorded by the UN in the period from February to June 2022. These violations include attacks against civilians, illegal military activities, restrictions of movements and obstruction of humanitarian and State activities and were perpetrated by both armed groups and defence forces of the State. In addition to these incidents, multiple signatories to the PAPR have also been found in violation of human rights and international humanitarian law (IHL) – 402 incidents of human rights abuses and IHL violations against 1,552 victims recoded by the UN in the period between 02 June and 01 October 2022. Ensuring implementation of PAPR commitments by armed groups cannot be achieved without sufficient and sustained engagement with these actors. The republican dialogue’s exclusion of armed groups has been a missed opportunity in this regard. On the other hand, the Luanda Roadmap launched by the ICGLR in September 2021 which aims among others, to ensure consultation of ICGLR Heads of States with leaders of armed groups to advance total renunciation of violence, remains to be an important framework for the realisation of commitments made in the PAPR.

The humanitarian situation in CAR also remains grave. In addition to displacement constantly fuelled by cycles of violence, CAR is also affected by occasional natural disasters that adds to the existing humanitarian toll. Out of its total population of 4.9 million people, 3.1 million are assessed by the UN as people that require humanitarian assistance. Food-insecurity is also a major challenge in CAR with 2.2 million people declared as food-insecure. As off the beginning of October 2022, internally displaced persons (IDPs) in CAR have reached a total of 484,335, a figure to which the floods of June 2022 highly contributed. In addition to displacing significant number of people, the floods which affected 176 towns and villages also destroyed more than 2,600 houses and 18,500 hectares of crops, exacerbating existing humanitarian needs.

The status of MOUACA’s operations forms another important part of tomorrow’s deliberations. In line with the 936th PSC Communiqué which authorises MOUACA, the mission’s mandate will be expiring at the end of this month following the three-month extension at the 1093rd session of the PSC. Whether the mission’s mandate will be renewed or not depends largely on the availability of funds for its continued operations, particularly the outcomes of AU Commission’s engagement with the EU, in line with the communiqué of Council’s 1093rd session. Having been operationalised based on funds derived from the European Peace facility (EPF), the mission’s deployment was suspended on 31 July 2022, at the end date of the EPF’s funding period. Possibility of extension of funds within the framework of EPF has seemed unlikely considering the level of operationalization of the mission which so far used €1,100,915 of the €9,551,897 that was granted. Indeed, discussions subsequent to the 1093rd session of the PSC did not change the funding issues of MOUACA.

On the AU’s side, the reasons tabled for MOUACA’s limitations in attaining its objectives and utilising its funds effectively are related to the security situation throughout CAR and the absence of sufficient and effective protection for MOUACA personnel by CAR security forces. Indeed, one of the points observed from the EU’s side in deciding to freeze MOUACA’s funds was also this very aspect of dangerous security situation in CAR which has made deployment of the observers outside of Bangui difficult, demonstrating the need for protection by UN forces or through expansion of MOUACA capacity to provide protection to its own personnel. It is to be recalled that in addition to monitoring and supporting the overall implementation of PAPR, MOUACA was mandated to assess progress of the activities of the Joint Special Security Units (USMS) and contribute towards efforts in the areas of protection of civilians (PoC) and protection of resources necessary for CAR’s economic recovery. In light of the realities on the ground, while MOUACA still has much to do in the areas of these mandates, unless alternative means for financing the mission are found, it may be necessary to consolidate or transfer the mandate of MOUACA into MISCA, AU’s political mission in CAR.

The outcome of tomorrow’s session is expected to be a Communiqué. Council may express concern over the latest political developments in the country including attempts made to manipulate constitutional term limit through amendment of the 2016 CAR Constitution and advice against any moves that will put at risk advances made in the country’s peace processes. It may condemn the continued violation of the PAPR by armed groups and urge concerned groups to abide by the commitments they have entered. Council may call on the international community to redouble humanitarian efforts in CAR in light of the grave circumstances. Regarding MOUACA, Council may either decide to renew the mission’s mandate or call for the transfer of its activities to the AU Mission in CAR (MISAC), depending on the recommendations of the AU Commission informed by consultations with the EU.  It may also take note of the limited human and financial resource constraining effective functioning of the AU Liaison Office in Bangui and reiterate its repeated requests for the AU Commission to take all necessary measures to fully equip and capacitate the Office, in order to ensure that it effectively discharge its duties including ‘support for the implementation of the 2019 Political Agreement, taking into account the role of the AU as Guarantor of this Agreement’ (1011th Communiqué) and to explore all options including modalities to utilise the AU Peace Fund (979th Communiqué).


Briefing on the situation in Central African Republic and Operation of MOUACA

Briefing on the situation in Central African Republic and Operation of MOUACA

Date | 25 July 2022

Tomorrow (25 July) the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) is expected to convene its 1093rd session to consider the situation in Central African Republic (CAR), with a focus on the operation of AU Military Observers Mission to CAR (MOUACA).

Following opening remarks by Abdi Mahamoud Eybe, Permanent Representative of Djibouti to the AU and Chairperson of the Council for the month of July, Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security is expected to deliver a statement. Ambassador Bertino Matias Matondo, Special Representative of the AU Chairperson (SRCC) for CAR and representative of the Economic Community of the Central African States (ECCAS) are also expected to deliver statements. The representative of CAR is also expected to make a statement as a concerned country. Representatives of the Multidimensional Integrated Mission for the Stabilization of CAR (MINUSCA) and the European Union (EU) are also expected to make statements.

It has been a year since the Council convened a dedicated session on CAR despite the request made at its 936th session, for the AU Commission to provide regular reports, at least every three months, on the implementation of the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in CAR (PAPR-CAR). It is to be recalled that the last time the PSC met to discuss CAR was at its 1011th meeting held on 21 July 2021, where the Council considered the report of its field mission to CAR conducted from 27 June to 01 July. The field mission took place after the holding of the presidential and legislative elections that were marred by violence and contention.

Tomorrow’s session will address two broad issues. The first of this is the state of the situation in the CAR. Indeed, considering the fact that the PSC did not consider the situation for a year, tomorrow’s session affords the opportunity to review developments in the situation in the CAR since its last engagement in the context of its field mission. The second issue that tomorrow’s session will address concerns AU’s role in supporting peace and security in the CAR, including the status and operation of the MOUACA.

In terms of the situation in the CAR, it is to be recalled that one of the major challenges that the PAPR -CAR has faced has been the return of some of the armed groups to fighting and the emergence of new armed groups in the context of and after the elections of December 2020 that were marred by violence. After the establishment of the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) in December 2020, an umbrella body of six armed groups (also signatories of the peace agreement) with strong backing from former President François Bozizé, the CAR has plunged into violent conflicts, as the CPS launched attacks capturing territories in parts of the country. In the course of 2021, three trends emerged in terms of the response of the government established after the December 2020 elections. The first trend involves the launching by national defense forces of a military offensive, with support from foreign troops deployed on bilateral arrangements, against the various armed rebel groups. Although not successful in substantially reversing and containing the armed rebel groups, the offensive became one of the factors in weakening of the armed rebel groups including the CPC.

However, the military operation and the fighting involving armed rebel groups have led to reports of violations against civilians, further exacerbating the suffering of ordinary people. According to the latest report of the United Nation Secretary-General on CAR, as of June 2022, 374 security violation have been recorded. The majority of the 374 violations were targeted at civilians (284), followed by violations related to restrictions of movement (41), illegal military activities (31) and obstruction of State institutions, humanitarian organizations or the United Nations (18). Anti-personnel mines and other explosive weapons against civilians is another challenge in the country. For the PSC, one of the issues of particular importance is the need for military operations to comply with AU norms on the protection of civilians and respect for human rights and international humanitarian law.

The second trend involves the mobilization of regional engagement and support for the peace process in the CAR. This involved the adoption by the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) of a road map at a meeting of the ICGLR held in September 2021. The joint road map the ICGLR leaders adopted to revitalize the peace process, among others, called for the declaration of a ceasefire by the Government and reaffirmed the continued consultations of the Heads of State and Government of ICGLR with leaders of the armed groups for a total renunciation of violence. This led to the announcement by CAR President in October 2021 of a unilateral ceasefire. Considering the contribution of the Luanda Roadmap for peace in CAR and the need for ensuring complementary implementation with the PAPR -CAR, a strategic review was launched by the President with a view to combine the implementation of the PAPR-CAR with the Luanda Roadmap. Subsequently, on 15 July the 8th meeting of the Strategic Committee on Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration and Repatriation/Security Sector Reform and National Reconciliation adopted a decision for the establishment of a coordination mechanism chaired by the Prime Minister and Head of Government.

The third trend relates to efforts for peace and reconciliation in the country. Parallel to the military offensive, President Faustin Archange Touadera launched the Republican Dialogue in an attempt to breathe some life into the peace process. Following the establishment of the organizing committee for a republican dialogue in June 2021, the dialogue was inaugurated on 1 September 2021. While the CPC affiliated armed groups were excluded, the dialogue brought together various political and security actors. Yet, progress in undertaking the republican dialogue has been slow and marred by contentions over inclusivity and withdrawals of key stakeholders from the process. Thus, despite the convening of the dialogue from 21 to 27 March 2022, several opposition groups and parties announced their withdrawal from the dialogue. Notwithstanding the resultant fragmentation and contentions surrounding the dialogue including the attempt of the members of the President’s party to have a proposal removing the two-term limit of the president removed from the Constitution included as part of the recommendations of the dialogue, the final report of the republican dialogue, which included 217 recommendations, was submitted to the President on 19 April. Subsequently, a presidential decree on the establishment of the committee for implementation and monitoring of the recommendations of the dialogue has been published. For members of the PSC, a major issue of importance is the need for achieving consensus among the major political and social forces in the country on the recommendations if the dialogue is to achieve the objectives of national reconciliation and consolidating peace.

Overall, these various developments removed attention for much of 2021 and early 2022 away from the PAPR-CAR. The UN in its various reports highlighted that implementation of the Political Agreement registered marginal progress. Some progress has been registered during 2021 particularly in the areas of disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and repatriation and continuing efforts to operationalize the special mixed security units. Progress was also observed in the area of the socioeconomic provisions of the Agreement, with the development of a toolbox with support from World Bank for monitoring the implementation of projects related to the National Plan for Recovery and Peacebuilding Plan, including the delivery of peace dividends. In August 2021, the 11th session of the PAPR-CAR Executive Monitoring Committee (EMC) was held and resolved to hold the meeting every three months, to set up a coordination unit of the PAPR-CAR. Subsequently, the EMC held its 12th and 13th sessions on 14 February and 25 May 2022 respectively, which among others, highlighted the need for establishment of consultation mechanism for the implementation of the PAPR-CAR and Luanda Roadmap.

It is worth noting that global geopolitical tensions have found expression in the CAR. This is particularly associated with the presence of Russian forces. In this context, CAR has come to suffer some consequences of the mobilization of sanctions and other diplomatic measures against Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, notably in terms of suspension or delay in delivery of aids and support to the country.

The second aspect of tomorrow’s session will focus on the role of the AU on the ground. This relates to both the AU Liaison Office in CAR and MOUACA. Despite its continued efforts to ensure effective engagement of the AU on the ground, the AU Liaison Office in Bangui faces serious financial and human resource constraints which continue to hamper its functioning, a point well emphasized by the PSC at its 1011th session. It is also to be recalled that the AU, the main guarantor of the PAPR-CAR, deployed MOUACA, to support and monitor the implementation of the PAPR-CAR. It is to be recalled that, the PSC at its 936th session held in July 2020, authorized MOUACA and endorsed the operation for the period from 1 September 2020 to 31 October 2022.  Despite the fact that the challenges in the theatre of operation led to the reduction of the initial force size of 49 military officers of MOUACA to 34, realizing the operationalization of the mission proved difficult. It was reported that this was on account of challenges relating to modalities in how finances are released, COVID-19, the dependence of MOUACA on receiving protection from CAR forces and logistical and security issues affecting the construction and servicing of sites for housing MOUACA as well as lack of support from MONUSCO.

MOUACA’s deployment was based on funds from the European Peace Facility (EPF) and the current funding for MOUACA is envisaged to run until 31 July 2022. The lack of progress in the effective operationalization of MOUACA and the limited amount of funds absorbed by the mission have raised major question mark on the chances of extension of the EPF funding to MOUACA. It would thus be of particular importance for members of the PSC to know the measures that can be implemented for ensuring both the effective operationalization of MOUACA and the extension by the EU of the EPF funding beyond 31 July.

The other issue expected to receive attention during tomorrow’s session is the lifting of the arms embargo imposed on CAR by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). The embargo has since 2013 been extended regularly and is currently in force until 31 July 2022. In this regard, the PSC underscored in the Communiqué of its 1011th session, the need for the lifting of the arms embargo to enable the country to build the required capacity of the CAR defence and security forces, in order to enable them to more effectively discharge their constitutional mandate of defending the country. Similarly, at the UNSC meeting held on 22 June 2022 on CAR, Gabon on the behalf of the A3 echoed the need to lift arm embargo and call for international support for CAR Government efforts to strengthen its management system for weapons and munitions.

The PSC in tomorrow’s meeting might also be keen to receive an update on the state of the preparations for local elections, initially expected to be held in September 2022 for the first time in more than 30 years. On 16 March, the National Electoral Authority announced the postponement of the first round of local elections, scheduled for September 2022 owing to a lack of resources and the delay in the adoption of the law on the delimitation of administrative districts. Similarly, the humanitarian situation in the CAR, exacerbated by the volatile security situation and incidents of violations and fighting, will also received attention during tomorrow’s session.

The expected outcome of the session is a Communiqué. The PSC may pay tribute to ECCAS, ICGLR, MINUSCA and other international stakeholders for their steadfast efforts to promote peace and reconciliation in CAR. The PSC may welcome the Luanda Roadmap and reaffirm the PAPR-CAR as the only peace framework and the Joint Roadmap being the vehicle for revitalizing its implementation on the basis of the coordination mechanism chaired by the Prime Minister. The PSC may express its concern over the recent flare-up of security tension and express its concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation. The PSC may also condemn the CPC’s action on targeted attacks against civilians and MINUSCA which amount to deliberate violations of human rights, war crimes and crimes against humanity and complete violation of commitments made by CPC while signing of the PAPR-CAR. It may urge all security forces to fully observe and comply with standards and measures for protection of civilians and ensuring respect for human rights and international humanitarian law (IHL) and call on CAR to put in place an independent mechanism for monitoring and investigating reports of violations of human rights and IHL by security forces operating in its territory. The PSC may urge the armed rebel groups to abide faithfully by the commitments made in the PAPR- CAR and ensure its full implementation to contribute to lasting peace and stability in the country. It may welcome the conduct of the republican dialogue, appeal to the government and opposition groups and parties to achieve consensus on the implementation of the recommendations of the dialogue. The PSC may also reiterate its request for the AU Commission to provide regular reports on the implementation of PAPR-CAR as necessary means for it to discharge its mandate in supporting the CAR and in supporting the AU Commission in implementing its measures. The PSC may once again express the need to lift the arms embargo imposed on CAR by the UNSC. The PSC may underscore the importance of local elections and encourage CAR to create the necessary conditions to undertake the local elections and in this regard may request the Commission to provide all the required support. On MOUACA, the PSC may request that the AU Commission requests extension of the financial support to the mission for a further period based on implementable plan that address the challenges impeding effective operationalization of MOUACA. With regards to the AU Liaison Office in CAR, Council may reiterate the call made at its 1011th session, for the Chairperson of the AU Commission to “urgently take necessary measures to ensure that the Office is availed with all necessary capacity, in order to enable it to more effectively discharge its mandate, including supporting the implementation of the 2019 Political Agreement”.

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).

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.

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.

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.