Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter, the Security Council this morning extended until 16 March the authorization of Member States participating in the Inter-African Mission to Monitor the Implementation of the Bangui Agreements (MISAB), as well as those States providing logistical support, to ensure security and freedom of movement of their personnel.
Unanimously adopting resolution 1152 (1998), the Council requested the Secretary-General to submit a report, no later than 23 February, on the situation in the Central African Republic. The report would also include recommendations regarding the establishment of a United Nations peacekeeping operation, including the structure, specific goals and financial implications of such an operation. The Council requested that the report include information on the implementation of the Bangui Agreements and on the commitments expressed in a letter to the Secretary-General by the President of the Central African Republic, Ange-Felix Patasse (document S/1998/61, annex). The Council also asked the Member States participating in MISAB to report to the Security Council through the Secretary-General before 16 March.
In his letter, dated 8 January, President Patasse describes measures to be taken to ensure the full implementation of the Bangui Agreements, as well as political and economic reforms. He also states that maintaining a credible peacekeeping force in the Central African Republic was essential for the effective implementation of those measures.
By the terms of the resolution, the Council expressed its intention to take a decision by 16 March on the establishment of a United Nations peacekeeping operation in the Central African Republic on the basis of the Secretary-General's report.
Welcoming the Secretary-General's intention, as contained in his report of 23 January, to appoint a special representative to the Central African Republic, the Council expressed its belief that the prompt appointment of such a representative could assist the parties in the implementation of the Bangui Agreements and provide support to other activities of the United Nations in the country.
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The Council welcomed the efforts of Member States participating in MISAB and those States which provided support to them. It approved the continued conduct of the operation in a neutral and impartial way to facilitate the return to peace and security by monitoring the implementation of the Bangui Agreements. Those efforts include supervising the surrender of arms by former mutineers, militias and all others unlawfully bearing arms.
Stressing the importance of regional stability, the Council reiterated its call to all States, international organizations and financial institutions to assist in the country's post-conflict development. It welcomed the support provided by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and encouraged it to continue that support. Recalling that the expenses and logistical support for MISAB will be borne on a voluntary basis in accordance with its mandate, the Council encouraged United Nations Member States to contribute to the Trust Fund for the Central African Republic.
The MISAB was deployed in Bangui on 8 February 1997. Member States in the force are Burkina Faso, Chad, Gabon, Mali, Senegal and Togo. The Mission was established in January 1997 at the request of the Central African Republic following army rebellions.
Statements were made by the representatives of France, China, Japan, Brazil, Bahrain, Kenya, Portugal, Gambia, Sweden, Slovenia, United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Costa Rica, United States and Gabon.
The meeting, which was called to order at 11:11 a.m., was adjourned at 12:20 p.m.
Council Work Programme
The Council met this morning to consider the situation in the Central African Republic. It had before it a report of the Secretary-General pursuant to Security Council resolution 1136 (1997) (document S/1998/61), in which he recommends that the Council consider extending the present authorization provided for the Inter-African Mission to Monitor the Implementation of the Bangui Agreements (MISAB) until 15 March. He also recommends that the Council express its readiness to establish, in principle, a United Nations peacekeeping operation in the Central African Republic, on the basis of a more detailed concept of operations that he will submit to the Council in early March.
In a letter (document S/1998/88) dated 28 January, the President of the Central African Republic, Ange-Felix Patasse, agrees with the Secretary-General's recommendations for a peacekeeping operation that would replace MISAB. He also calls for the extension of the mandate of MISAB for five weeks in order to prevent any disruption between the departure of the inter-African force and the deployment of a United Nations operation.
Also before the Council is a letter from the President of Gabon and Chairman of the International Mediation Committee, Omar Bongo (document S/1998/97), asking the Council to extend MISAB's mandate until 15 March, as a short-term measure.
The Inter-African Mission was established on 31 January 1997 with a mandate to restore peace and security in the Central African Republic by monitoring the implementation of the Bangui Agreements, which included the necessary elements for a comprehensive settlement of the crisis. It was also charged with conducting operations to disarm the former rebels, the militia and all other unlawfully armed individuals.
According to the report, the ineffectiveness of the national security forces in the Central African Republic has made MISAB an indispensable force for the maintenance of security and stability in Bangui and in the country in general. The withdrawal of MISAB -- which is almost fully dependent on the logistical and financial support of France and relies on the availability of French operational back-up -- could result in the destabilization of the peace process, with serious consequences for the humanitarian situation and international peace and stability in the subregion.
France is preparing to withdraw all its troops, currently totalling more than 1,400, and consequently its logistical support for MISAB, by mid-April, the report says. While the Member States participating in MISAB are willing to continue to assist the Central African Republic in consolidating the peace, they would not have the capacity to do so alone. The continuation of active
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international assistance to the Central African Republic would therefore be vital after the expiration of the MISAB mandate on 6 February.
The Secretary-General states that the only viable option for the maintenance of stability in the Central African Republic would be the establishment and deployment of another peacekeeping operation with a structure and military role similar to that of MISAB. Through its presence throughout Bangui and regular patrolling, a United Nations stabilization force would seek to maintain the security established by MISAB and to create an environment conducive to the holding of free and fair legislative elections scheduled to be held in August or September. The mission would be of a limited duration and should be completed two or three months after the legislative elections.
The Secretary-General envisages the need to appoint a special representative to head the mission, who would be supported by a small number of civilian officers. To ensure optimal coordination within the United Nations system, the Resident Coordinator/United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative could serve as director of the office of the special representative. In order to maintain an adequate level of logistical support to the stabilization force, approximately 1,400 troops would be required to fulfil the military tasks. The rapid establishment and success of the operation would be greatly facilitated if countries currently providing troops or logistical support to MISAB would consider continuing their participation.
In addition to its military role, the United Nations mission would assist in mobilizing international assistance for the country, the report says, and a special trust fund for the Central African Republic could be established for that purpose. It would also facilitate the provision of technical assistance and support by the United Nations system for national reconciliation efforts and the rehabilitation and effective functioning of accountable and democratic institutions, including assistance and advice on constitutional and human rights issues.
The Secretary-General says that all the parties to the Bangui Agreements acknowledge that of the seven main provisions of the Agreements, the following three have been implemented: establishment of the Government of National Union; adoption of the amnesty act dealing with offences committed during the third mutiny (November 1996); and adoption of a law providing pensions and other benefits to former Presidents of the Republic.
Since the cease-fire came into effect on 2 July 1997, a fourth provision of the Agreements, concerning disarmament (surrender of weapons by the former mutineers and recovery of weapons from militias and the civilian population), has been implemented almost fully with regard to heavy weapons. Regarding
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light weapons, close to two thirds of them have been handed over to MISAB so far.
The remaining three main provisions that have not been implemented include the recommendations of the General Meeting on National Defence (États généraux de la défense); the abandonment of the judicial enforcement of the parliamentary audit in respect of persons presumed to have misappropriated funds under the previous regime; and the holding of a National Reconciliation Conference, which should mark the completion of the implementation of the Bangui Agreements. In addition, compensation to the victims of the rebellions still needs to be addressed. Regarding the legislative elections scheduled for August or September and the presidential elections planned to be held in late 1999, the recently drafted electoral code needs to be adopted and an independent electoral commission established.
In addition to the implementation of the outstanding provisions of the Bangui Agreements, the Secretary-General states that measures need to be taken to revitalize the country's economy and to improve the living conditions of the population. The 1996 mutinies had a detrimental impact on the overall economic situation of the Central African Republic, causing the gross national product to fall by approximately 3 per cent in 1996 and leading to a serious loss of confidence in the country's economy. While economic growth rates have gradually increased since 1996, the state of public finances has continued to be highly unsatisfactory.
The social situation in the country also continues to be a very serious concern, the report says. Some 20,000 State employees -- 80 per cent of whom reside in Bangui -- have not been paid in over six months. School grants and retirement benefits have not been disbursed for over one year. Schools have remained closed owing to teachers' strikes or lack of school equipment. Medicine and medical equipment are in short supply. Following the destruction of major factories during the mutinies, the unemployment rate has doubled in Bangui.
While MISAB has succeeded in creating relative calm and a sense of security in Bangui, the overall security situation nonetheless remains a cause for serious concern, the report says. Banditry and armed robbery is a major problem in the interior of the country and in certain sectors of the capital. Although the continuing disarmament exercise can be regarded as largely successful, significant quantities of light weapons remain in circulation in some areas of the country or could easily be acquired across its borders.
According to the report, the national security apparatus of the Central African Republic has been severely weakened. The official strength of the its armed forces stands at 3,500, but its command structure has disintegrated as a result of the mutinies, and it lacks vehicles, communication equipment and
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other essential assets. Only the Presidential Guard, which has been reinforced, is currently operational, and its strength has reportedly reached several hundred well-equipped personnel. The national Gendarmerie, with a strength of approximately 1,500 officers, has maintained a presence throughout the country, and its structure has remained generally intact. However, its limited operational capacity undermines its effectiveness in maintaining law and order. The police force, deployed throughout the country, stands at about 1,900 officers, but it also lacks the necessary resources and currently operates unarmed.
The regional security situation also remains precarious, as many countries bordering the Central African Republic have experienced serious social and political instability, the report says. As a consequence, the Central African Republic has received thousands of refugees in recent years and has a current caseload of some 45,000 persons from neighbouring countries and from the Great Lakes region. Any sudden deterioration of the situation in the Central African Republic could have very serious regional consequences.
In an earlier letter, dated 8 January, to the Secretary-General (document S/1998/61, annex), President Patasse states that it is essential that the United Nations ensure that a "credible" peacekeeping force is maintained in the country, at least until presidential elections are held in late 1999.
President Patasse says that more than 84 per cent of the tasks included in the timetable agreed with the International Monitoring Committee have been completed to the satisfaction of all. (An overview of the implementation of the Bangui Agreements is contained in appendix II of the letter.) A lasting national reconciliation depends on the implementation of those agreements in accordance with the provisions of article 2 of the Preliminary Agreement on a National Reconciliation Pact, which is contained in the letter's appendix I.
A national commission composed of representatives of all political groups and civil society has drafted a new electoral code, which is to be submitted to the National Assembly at its next session, to be held in March, President Patasse says. Once the electoral code is adopted and an independent joint electoral commission is established, it will be possible to draw up a timetable for the legislative and municipal elections scheduled for August or September. President Patasse invites the United Nations and the international community to supervise the legislative and presidential elections when they are held.
To ensure the implementation of all requirements of the Bangui Agreements, President Patasse has instructed the Government of Action in Defence of Democracy to take measures to increase State revenues so that the country can honour its internal and external obligations. To ensure the
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implementation of all those measures aimed at consolidating peace, strengthening security and ensuring the country's economic and social recovery, the Central African Republic must continue to enjoy the active and committed support of the international community.
The Council also has before it three periodic reports of the International Monitoring Committee established pursuant to the mandate of MISAB, which were requested by the Council in its resolution 1136 (1997). The International Monitoring Committee to supervise the implementation of the Bangui Agreements, chaired by General Amadou Toumani Toure, is the body which directs the actions of MISAB. It receives political guidance from the heads of State concerned and especially from President Bongo of Gabon.
The International Monitoring Committee's third periodic report (document S/1998/86), covering the period from 5 January to 4 February, stresses the necessity and usefulness of extending MISAB's mandate for a period of one to two months after 6 February. That extension will enable the deployment of a multinational force during the post-MISAB period to ensure the security conditions required for the implementation of essential reforms and the organization of free, democratic and transparent elections.
In order to avoid any return to social disruption in the Central African Republic, the report urges that all measures should be taken, including efforts by the Secretary-General, to encourage Member States, international organizations and financial institutions to assist in the country's post-conflict development.
Regarding the provisions of the Bangui Agreements concerning the implementation of the recommendations of the General Meeting on National Defence, the Commission on the Restructuring of the Defence and Security Forces filed its report on 29 January, the report says. That Commission, chaired by the Minister of Defence, under the supervision of the Chairman of the International Monitoring Committee, provides the framework in which compromise solutions acceptable to all can be worked out for the main recommendations in dispute.
According to the report, the Commission on the Restructuring of the Defence and Security Forces decided to dissolve the Survey, Research and Documentation Section, and assign its members to their original units; dissolve the National Research and Investigation Centre; establish a documentation bureau to take charge of national security; and implement a Presidential Decree which conferred specific functions on the Presidential Guard and restricted the number of its members. A formal decision by the head of State on the matter is expected at any moment, according to the report. Moreover, the project initiated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on demobilization, retraining and reintegration of the Central African
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armed forces has recently been launched. That project should help the army to operate as a truly republican army and would thus fulfil a number of recommendations made by the General Meeting on National Defence.
In the framework of implementing the provisions concerning the organization of a national reconciliation conference, many public awareness activities have been scheduled, including forums to assess the implementation of the Bangui Agreements and the military situation, which will be held during the second week of February.
The national reconciliation conference, initially scheduled from 10 to 14 February, has been postponed until the week of 23 to 28 February in order to provide better working conditions. Senior officials of the "Group of Eleven" and the four groups of affiliated trade unions decided to withdraw from the preparatory committee for the conference. The International Monitoring Committee is attempting to negotiate a modus vivendi between the authorities and those opposition groups who have been accused by the authorities of resorting to acts contrary to the spirit of the Bangui Agreements and of refusing to implement certain provisions of those agreements.
Security has recently been undermined by a revival of "the roadblock phenomenon", which has lead to criminal acts of extortion in some parts of the country, and a resurgence of urban banditry, the report says. The International Monitoring Committee recommended to the head of State and the Central African Government that subregional cooperation with adjoining countries experiencing the roadblock phenomenon should be organized and strengthened. The mandate conferred on MISAB does not allow it to be directly involved in the fight against insecurity that does not appear to be directly linked to the rebellion.
There has been no significant change in the deployment of the force, the report says. The MISAB is continuing to ensure security in all neighbourhoods of the Central African capital by occupying 20 surveillance posts and is participating in joint security patrols in conjunction with the Central African security and defence forces in all districts of Bangui. Hold-ups, armed robberies and other criminal acts have diminished considerably, due to the progress achieved in disarmament and the constant vigilance instituted by the system of joint patrols.
The International Monitoring Committee's second periodic report (document S/1998/3), covering the period from 5 December 1997 to 4 January, contains a list of the weapons turned over to MISAB since the signing of the truce agreement of 28 June 1997 and the cease-fire agreement of 2 July 1997. The report states that some success had been noted in the area of heavy weapons, but the recovery of all light arms remains uncertain.
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In their first report to the Council (document S/1997/954) covering the period from 31 October to 4 December 1997, the International Monitoring Committee stated that the extension of MISAB's mandate had given new impetus to the mediation efforts, but the success of the Mission continued to depend on the international community's contribution to the voluntary trust fund for the Central African Republic.
The Council had before it a draft resolution (document S/1998/102), the text of which reads as follows:
"The Security Council
"Reaffirming its resolutions 1125 (1997) of 6 August 1997 and 1136 (1997) of 6 November 1997,
"Taking note of the third report to the Security Council by the International Committee for the Follow-up of the Bangui Agreements (S/1998/86),
"Taking note also of the letter dated 28 January 1998 from the President of the Central African Republic to the President of the Security Council (S/1998/88) and of the letter dated 4 February 1998 to the President of the Security Council from the President of Gabon, on behalf of the members of the International Committee for the Follow-up of the Bangui Agreements (S/1998/97),
"Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 23 January 1998 (S/1998/61) submitted to the Council in accordance with Security Council resolution 1136 (1997),
"Expressing appreciation for the neutral and impartial way in which the Inter-African Force to Monitor the Implementation of the Bangui Agreements (MISAB) has carried out its mandate, in close cooperation with the Central African authorities, and noting with satisfaction that MISAB has contributed to stabilizing the situation in the Central African Republic, in particular through the supervision of the surrendering of arms,
"Noting that the States participating in MISAB and the Central African Republic have decided to extend its mandate (S/1997/561, appendix I) in order to complete its mission with the prospect of the United Nations establishing a peacekeeping operation.
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"Stressing the importance of regional stability and, in this context, fully supporting the efforts made by the Member States participating in the International Mediation Committee established by the nineteenth Summit of the Heads of State and Governments of France and Africa and by the members of the International Committee for the Follow-up of the Bangui Agreements,
"Stressing also the need for all signatories of the Bangui Agreements to continue to cooperate fully in respecting and implementing these Agreements in order to help to foster the conditions for long-term stability in the Central African Republic,
"Determining that the situation in the Central African Republic continues to constitute a threat to international peace and security in the region,
"1. Welcomes the efforts made by the Member States participating in MISAB and by those States providing support to them, and their readiness to maintain these efforts;
"2. Welcomes the support provided by the United Nations Development Programme to the International Committee for the Follow-up of the Bangui Agreements and encourages it to continue this support;
"3. Calls upon the parties in the Central African Republic to complete the implementation without delay of the provisions of the Bangui Agreements and also calls for the fulfilment of the commitments expressed in the letter of 8 January 1998 to the Secretary-General from the President of the Central African Republic.
"4. Approves the continued conduct by Member States participating in MISAB of the operation in a neutral and impartial way to achieve its objective as set out in paragraph 2 of resolution 1125 (1997);
"5. Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, authorizes the Member States participating in MISAB and those States providing logistical support to ensure security and freedom of movement of their personnel;
"6. Decides that the authorization referred to in paragraph 5 above will be initially extended until 16 March 1998;
"7. Recalls that the expenses and logistical support for MISAB will be borne on a voluntary basis in accordance with article 11 of the mandate of MISAB and encourages Member States to contribute to the Trust Fund for the Central African Republic;
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"8. Welcomes the intention of the Secretary-General, as contained in his report of 23 January 1998, to appoint a Special Representative to the Central African Republic, and expresses its belief that the prompt appointment of such a representative could assist the parties in the implementation of the Bangui Agreements and provide support to other activities of the United Nations in the country;
"9. Reiterates its call to all States, international organizations and financial institutions to assist in post-conflict development in the Central African Republic;
"10. Requests the Member States participating in MISAB to provide a report to the Security Council through the Secretary-General before the end of the period referred to in paragraph 6 above;
"11. Requests the Secretary-General to submit a report for its consideration, no later than 23 February 1998, on the situation in the Central African Republic, with recommendations regarding the establishment of a United Nations peacekeeping operation, including the structure, specific goals and financial implications of such an operation, and with information on the implementation of the Bangui Agreements and on the commitments expressed in the letter addressed to the Secretary-General by the President of the Central African Republic (S/1998/61, annex);
"12. Expresses its intention to take a decision by 16 March 1998 on the establishment of a United Nations peacekeeping operation in the Central African Republic on the basis of the report referred to in paragraph 11 above;
"13. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter."
ALAIN DEJAMMET (France) said that after the great turmoil in the Central African Republic, the Bangui Agreements had established a process for peace and national reconciliation. The MISAB had supported that objective. He paid tribute to the Chairman of the International Mediation Committee, Gabon's President Omar Bongo, for his efforts to ensure compliance with the Agreements. He also paid tribute to those States which had provided troops to MISAB, and commended the Secretariat for its support of the Mission.
The Mission was an outstanding example of preventive diplomacy, he continued. Despite progress, due in large part to the efforts of MISAB, the situation in the Central African Republic was precarious and constituted a risk to regional security. Consistent efforts were needed to ensure security in the Republic, including the implementation of vigorous measures in the
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economic and social spheres. Security must be maintained and safeguarded through a peacekeeping operation.
The Secretary-General had provided recommendations for a follow-up to MISAB, he said. France supported those recommendations and would, therefore, vote in favour of the draft resolution before the Council, which would enable the Secretariat to prepare an operational proposal to be acted on by the Council in March. In responding to the expectations of Africa, and those of the Secretary-General, the decision in March should be unanimous and positive, as it should be today.
QIN HUASUN (China) said his Government endorsed the extension of MISAB's mandate in support of the International Monitoring Committee to help the Government and all sides concerned in resolving the crisis in that country. China has always been concerned and deeply disturbed by the continued unrest in the Central African Republic, and concerned by the suffering inflicted on its people.
His Government was pleased to see that all sides in the Central African Republic were committed to the restoration of peace and security, he said. China supported the Government of National Union established a year ago and welcomed the progress made in implementing the Bangui Agreements. As long as all sides take into account the basic interests of the people, they will be able to overcome their difficulties and differences, fully implement all tasks set out in the Bangui Agreements, and bring about national reconciliation and peace and security.
China also appreciated the critical role played by MISAB in the Central African Republic, he said. His Government has always supported African countries in their efforts to rely on their own strengths to resolve regional problems. China will positively consider the Secretary-General's proposal to deploy peacekeeping forces in that country. The international community should attach importance to the question of the Central African Republic and bringing about regional peace and stability.
MASAKI KONISHI (Japan) recalled that last August, to prevent a resurgence of the conflict in the Central African Republic, the Security Council had decided to authorize States participating in MISAB, as well as those States providing logistical support, to ensure the security of their personnel. He thanked those that had participated in MISAB activities, and France for its special support to the Mission. He also paid tribute to President Bongo of Gabon for his efforts as Chairman of the International Mediation Committee.
Japan had engaged in the effort to devise an effective strategy for the prevention and early resolution of conflicts in Africa, he continued. His
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delegation believed that the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping operation in the Central African Republic should be considered as part of the Council's strategy. While there was relative stability on the ground, a continued international presence would be essential once MISAB's mandate expired.
Japan would, therefore, vote in favour of the resolution before the Council, including the intention to take a decision by 16 March on the establishment of a peace-keeping operation in the Central African Republic, he said. Extending MISAB's authorization through 16 March would enable President Patasse to make good on his promise to fully implement the Bangui Agreements. Honouring that commitment was a prerequisite for lasting peace and stability in that country. He looked forward to the Secretary-General's report, due later in the month, and said that Japan would continue to assist the Central African Republic in its efforts to restore stability and achieve greater prosperity.
CELSO L.N. AMORIM (Brazil) said there had been a favourable turn of events in the Central African Republic since the adoption of Council resolution 1136 (1997). It was important to stress the crucial role played by President Bongo in the peace process in that country. Yet, despite efforts to fully implement the Bangui Agreements, there were elements that were not favourable to the peace process. The "Group of 11" and four trade unions had withdrawn from the preparatory conference for the National Reconciliation Conference and that was a source of concern. The draft resolution before the Council supported the authorization of an extension of MISAB's mandate and supported the Secretary-General's intention to appoint a special representative. Brazil encouraged the Secretary-General to proceed with that appointment without delay.
Regarding the deployment of a peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic, the Secretary-General's report should contain proposals concerning the structure, objectives and financial implications of that force, he said. However, the primary responsibility in establishing peace in the Central African Republic lay with its Government, and President Patasse had a central role to play. The international community would be prepared to do its part in the process of national reconciliation and reconstruction in the Central African Republic.
RASHID AL-DOSARI (Bahrain) thanked all concerned for their efforts to achieve peace in the Central African Republic. His delegation shared the concerns expressed by the Secretary-General in his report about the fragile progress made in improving the situation in that country.
He requested, on an urgent basis, the implementation of the Bangui Agreements, which would require the full commitment of all parties. He also
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called for continued support by UNDP and other specialized agencies, as well as from Member States, to ensure stability in the Republic. Reiterating the importance of securing social and political stability in that country, he said he would vote in favour of the resolution, which would support the country's peace process.
Serious consideration of the establishment of a peacekeeping operation upon the withdrawal of the African troops was needed, he said. He awaited the Secretary-General's upcoming report, which would provide details on the establishment of that proposed mission.
THOMAS AMOLO (Kenya) said the Secretary-General's report gave a clear picture of the current situation in Bangui and indicated the shape of the international community's future involvement in the Central African Republic. Kenya supported the Secretary-General's efforts and welcomed his recommendations. The MISAB had done an exemplary job under difficult circumstances. It was encouraging that MISAB was willing to continue to assist the Central African Republic in consolidating peace. It was also encouraging that the long-expected Conference on National Reconciliation, with the participation of all political parties had been scheduled for 23 to 28 February.
The anticipated withdrawal of French logistic and financial support by mid-April would disrupt MISAB's operation; it would undoubtedly reverse the progress so far achieved and destabilize the fragile peace in the Central African Republic, he said. The draft resolution before the Council sought to address those concerns by extending MISAB's mandate until 16 March. The draft also expressed the Council's intention to take a decision on the establishment of a peacekeeping operation, critical in moving the peace process forward. Kenya would vote in favour of the draft resolution.
JOSE TADEU SOARES (Portugal) said MISAB was an example of what preventive diplomacy could achieve. However, the United Nations would soon have to consider new efforts to avoid jeopardizing the progress achieved to date. He paid tribute to those who had played an important role in national reconciliation, particularly the President of Gabon.
The situation in the Central African Republic remained socially and economically precarious, he continued. Further disruptions could have serious repercussions. Portugal agreed with the Secretary-General that the parties concerned should fulfil as soon as possible the provisions of the Bangui Agreements, and that the living conditions of the country's citizens should be improved. Portugal also agreed on the need to establish a peacekeeping operation as a preventive measure, and therefore supported the resolution before the Council today.
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ABDOULIE MOMODOU SALLAH (Gambia) said his Government appreciated the vital intervention in the Central African Republic performed by France and MISAB member countries, which contributed to the restoration of peace and security in that country. While steps had been taken to implement the Bangui Agreements, the tasks relating to the Government's financial obligations to certain groups in the Central African Republic must be resolved. If those issues Were not addressed, it could lead to the negation of the whole peace process and a return of social unrest. Gambia asked donor agencies and financial institutions to step forward with needed resources for the Central African Republic.
It was evident that the state of affairs in Bangui was fragile and that the smouldering embers of violence had not yet been fully extinguished, he said. With the imminent withdrawal of French troops, a vacuum could be created which might lead to instability. A state of insecurity in the Central African Republic could threaten the entire region. A United Nations peacekeeping operation would allow peace and security to firmly take hold in that country. The international community must not abandon the Central African Republic and render futile the work done by MISAB and other organizations.
HANS DAHLGREN (Sweden) said the International Monitoring Committee and MISAB were playing an important role in facilitating a return to peace and security in the Central African Republic. Progress had been achieved over the past year in implementing the Bangui Agreements. Sweden hoped that concerted efforts would now be made to implement the outstanding provisions, as set out in the letter dated 8 January from President Patasse to the Secretary-General. MISAB's authorization should be extended until mid-March.
There was a need for a continued international presence in the Central African Republic after the end of MISAB's mandate, he said. The United Nations was responsible for international peace and security. Therefore, Sweden supported the proposal that the follow-up to MISAB should take the form of a United Nations operation. It looked forward to the detailed concept of operations that the Secretary-General intends to submit to the Council. The military and civilian components of the mission would need to pull together, in close cooperation with United Nations agencies and the Bretton Woods institutions.
DANILO TURK (Slovenia) expressed admiration for the efforts of Gabonese President Bongo, as well as those of Secretary-General and other parties to bring a lasting peace to the Central African Republic. The peace process continued to be precarious. For that reason, he said it was encouraging that States participating in MISAB were willing to continue their involvement and complete the Mission, with the assumption that a United Nations peacekeeping operation would follow.
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Slovenia placed the highest importance on the expeditious implementation of the Bangui Agreements, he said. He recognized the support given by UNDP and encouraged further efforts. Additional support by the international community was necessary. The mandate of MISAB should be extended until 16 March, and a peacekeeping operation strongly considered.
Political will was needed on the part of the international community and the Republic itself to truly construct a lasting peace. It was therefore welcome that all political parties intended to participate in the National Reconciliation Conference to be held in Bangui from 23 to 28 February.
STEPHEN GOMERSALL (United Kingdom) paid tribute to the efforts of President Bongo and of African countries for peace in the Central African Republic. He also lauded the important support by France for the Mission. He noted the Secretary-General's request that the Council agree in principle to the proposal of a United Nations peacekeeping operation, and said that the United Kingdom would consider such an operation positively. He welcomed the opening of a political office in Bangui to monitor reforms. The United Kingdom would vote in favour of the draft resolution.
YURIY FEDOTOV (Russian Federation) said his Government would vote in favour of the draft resolution to extend the authorization of MISAB. International assistance in support of the implementation of the Bangui Agreements was of great significance to the stabilization of the situation in the Central African Republic. It was clear that the establishment of peace and reconciliation in that country had not yet become irreversible, and the commitment of all sides to the Bangui Agreements was of critical importance.
The difficult economic and social situation in the Central African Republic must be improved and necessary efforts must be taken to establish a sound basis for national reconciliation, he said. The Russian Federation would positively consider a peacekeeping mission of limited duration and resources after the submission of the Secretary-General's report on such an operation.
MELVIN SAENZ BIOLLEY (Costa Rica) expressed appreciation for Gabon's leadership in advancing the peace agreements in the Central African Republic. He commended the active and creative participation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and subregional groups in establishing peace and security. In the Central African Republic, regional and subregional groups had exerted major efforts, together with France, for peace.
The achievement of peace and security was linked to addressing economic and social difficulties, he continued. It was essential that the Central African Republic's grave economic and social problems were addressed on an urgent basis by the international community. Further, he called for a "new
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deal", on an exceptional basis, between the Republic and the Bretton Woods institutions. Costa Rica supported the draft resolution.
NANCY SODERBERG (United States) said MISAB had re-established security in Bangui, conducted an effective disarmament programme and helped to create the conditions necessary for the implementation of the Bangui Agreements. For those reasons, the United States fully supported an initial extension of the Chapter VII authorization of MISAB until 16 March. In addition, her Government would be prepared to take a decision on a possible United Nations peacekeeping operation in the Central African Republic by 16 March.
The international community could assist, but could not replace, the efforts of the Government of the Central African Republic to achieve long-term stability, she said. To be effective, a peacekeeping operation must be linked to the implementation of fundamental political, economic, and security reforms by the Government. The United States urged the Government of the Central African Republic to undertake those reforms without delay.
The United States supported the Secretary-General's intention to appoint a special representative to the Central African Republic, she said. The prompt appointment of a special representative could help that country's Government, United Nations agencies and the international community to develop a coordinated transition programme that could resolve the crisis and build a more permanent peace. A "Friends of the Central African Republic" group, comprised of interested governments and organizations, could provide essential support to the special representative's efforts.
Action on Draft
The draft resolution before the Council was adopted unanimously as Council resolution 1152 (1998).
Speaking after the action, DENIS DANGUE REWAKA (Gabon) said President Bongo of Gabon, in his capacity as the President of International Mediation Committee, has conveyed to the Security Council the need to take all necessary measures to prevent the situation in the Central African Republic from degenerating due to a lack of sufficient assistance. The resolution adopted by the Council reflected that concern.
The MISAB played a critical role in the political stabilization of the Central African Republic, and the international community must be aware that such stability had not yet been definitively established, he said. Gabon paid tribute to the sacrifices made by the member States of MISAB. His Government also appreciated the assistance provided by UNDP and the commitment shown by all MISAB's partners, especially France, whose contributions had made it possible for MISAB to complete its mandate.
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The international community must demonstrate solidarity with the Central African Republic, particularly by the timely deployment of a peacekeeping operation, as recommended by the Secretary-General in his report, he said. By doing so, the Council would be making an effective contribution towards preventing the resurgence of new conflicts in the Central African Republic. All of the conditions for a "soft transition" from MISAB to a future peacekeeping operation seemed to be present.
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