|3. Establishment and Activities of MINURCA|
1. Bangui Agreements
In 1996, the Central African Republic was shaken by a politico-military crisis, punctuated by three successive mutinies of elements of the Armed Forces. The crisis stemmed to a large extent from widespread public discontent over social and economic problems exacerbated by prolonged non-payment of salary arrears. Concerned by the situation and its implications for the region, and in view of the request of President Ange-Félix Patassé, the Nineteenth Summit Meeting of Heads of State and Government of France and Africa, held in December 1996, asked the Presidents of Gabon, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mali to visit Bangui and mediate a truce between the forces loyal to President Patassé and the rebels, which they succeeded in obtaining after intensive negotiations. On 25 January 1997, the parties signed the Bangui Agreements, which included the necessary elements for a comprehensive settlement. An international committee composed of one representative of each of the four Heads of State concerned was established to monitor the implementation of the Agreements.
2. Inter-African Force Deployed
In accordance with the agreement of the Conference on Consensus-building and Dialogue, held in Bangui from 11 to 18 January 1997, and in response to a letter from President Patassé, the four Heads of State decided to establish, from 31 January 1997, an inter-African force in the Central African Republic (MISAB). Its mandate was aimed at restoring peace and security by monitoring the implementation of the Bangui Agreements and conducting operations to disarm the former rebels, the militia and all other unlawfully armed individuals.
On 8 February 1997, MISAB was deployed in Bangui, comprising a total of some 800 troops from Burkina Faso, Chad, Gabon and Mali, and later from Senegal and Togo, under the military command of Gabon and with the logistical and financial support of France. The United Nations Security Council, by its resolution 1125 (1997) of 6 August 1997, welcomed these efforts, approved the continued conduct of the operation, and, acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, authorized MISAB and the States providing logistical support to ensure the security and freedom of movement of their personnel.3. Establishment and Activities of MINURCA
In the meantime, in resolution 1136 (1997) of 6 November, the Council requested the Secretary-General to report on the implementation of the resolution, including recommendations on further international support after the mandate of MISAB expired. The Secretary-General noted that, although the Member States participating in MISAB were willing to continue to assist the Central African Republic in consolidating the peace, they would not have the capacity to do so alone, as France was preparing to withdraw all its troops, and consequently its logistical support for MISAB, by mid-April 1998. According to the Secretary-General, the only viable option appeared to be the establishment and deployment of another peacekeeping operation authorized by the international community. Based on those recommendations and conclusions, the Security Council, by its resolution 1159 (1998) of 27 March 1998, decided to establish the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (MINURCA) with effect from 15 April 1998.
Despite the tight schedule, MINURCA achieved operational capability on 15 April, and the mission was formally established on that date in accordance with resolution 1159 (1998). MINURCA contributed significantly to restoring a climate of stability and security as well as dialogue among political actors. This progress encouraged efforts, with support of Bretton Woods institutions, to re-launch the economy and also enabled legislative elections to take place in a peaceful manner in November/December 1998. MINURCA also played a supportive role in the staging of the presidential elections of September 1999, which were won by the incumbent President Patassé. In its resolution 1271 (1999) of 22 October 1999, the Security Council decided to extend the mandate of MINURCA until 15 February 2000 with a view to ensure a short and gradual transition from United Nations peacekeeping to a post-conflict peace-building presence. During that time MINURCA was to be gradually phased out.
4. Transition to Peace-building Presence
In his last report on the activities on MINURCA, submitted to the Security Council on 14 January 2000, the Secretary-General stated that through their presence and active role in the Central African Republic, MINURCA, its predecessors and MISAB had provided the people and Government of the Central African Republic with much needed stability and breathing space after a period of serious upheaval. The consistent backing of the international community, as well as MINURCA's dissuasive presence and firmness in curbing threats to the country's stability, were essential for the holding of legislative and presidential elections and the launching of major political, social and economic reforms. Those positive developments took place as the wider Central African region was engulfed in violent conflict. At the same time, the Secretary-General noted that important challenges still lay ahead for the Central African Republic. Accordingly, as the United Nations withdrew its peacekeepers from the country, the Government of the Central African Republic would need to do its utmost to build on the gains made during MINURCA's presence and continue to work resolutely towards genuine democracy and economic recovery.
The Secretary-General reported that, as at 15 February 2000, the United Nations Peace-Building Support Office in the Central African Republic (BONUCA) would take over from MINURCA to provide assistance in the peace-building effort. The principal mission of BONUCA, headed by the Representative of the Secretary-General, would support the Government’s efforts to consolidate peace and national reconciliation, strengthen democratic institutions and facilitate the mobilization at the international level of political support and resources for national reconstruction and economic recovery in the country. In addition, the Office was expected to promote public awareness of human rights issues in the country and monitor developments in this field.
On 10 February 2000, the Security Council, in its statement, welcomed a decision by the Secretary-General to establish BONUCA. It commended MINURCA and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the contribution they had made to the restoration of peace and security in the Central African Republic and for their important and tangible support for the holding of free and fair legislative and presidential elections, the restructuring of the security forces, the training of the police force and the launching of vital reforms in the political, social and economic fields in the Central African Republic. The Council recognized the significant progress made by the Government of the Central African Republic in implementing the Bangui Agreements and the National Reconciliation Pact, which were the foundations of peace and stability in the country. The Council also strongly encouraged the Government of the Central African Republic to do all it could to build on the progress made while MISAB and MINURCA had been present in the country and to work with determination to strengthen democratic institutions, broaden the scope of reconciliation and national unity and promote economic reform and recovery.