The Security Council this morning extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (MINURCA) until 15 November, and expressed its intention to fully terminate it by that date, after authorizing it to play a supportive role in the presidential elections expected to be completed by the end of October.
By unanimously adopting resolution 1130 (1999), the Council called upon the Central African Republic's Government to establish the new electoral commission as soon as possible and to establish and adhere to a timetable for holding the elections. It also encouraged the deployment of Central African Armed Forces (FACA) troops to electoral sites to assist MINURCA in providing security and logistical support to the presidential elections.
The Council also decided to review the Mission's mandate every 45 days on the basis of reports of the Secretary-General and in light of the progress achieved towards implementing the commitments made by the President of the Central African Republic, Ange Félix Patassé, to the Secretary-General in a letter dated 23 January.
Those commitments include: the constructive participation of the opposition in the National Assembly; the early adoption of the draft laws on restructuring the armed forces and the approval by the President of the related draft decrees; adoption of a budget satisfactory to the international financial institutions; restriction of the activities of the Special Defence Force of the Republican Institutions (FORSDIR) to exclude the functions of the police and gendarmerie; and finalization of measures to privatize State enterprises.
The Council urged the authorities to: adopt the draft laws and decrees regarding national defence and the structure of defence forces by 15 April; limit the mission of FORSDIR to the protection of those Institutions and of high-level authorities, excluding all police and maintenance of law and order tasks; and to establish by 1 April an implementation programme to restructure the FACA, which should identify the key elements necessary, among them, well- balanced geographical and multi-ethnic recruitment.
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Emphasizing the importance of economic rehabilitation and reconstruction, and the need for significant international assistance for the country's sustainable development, the Council also stressed the international community's commitment to a long-term programme of support, and invited the Economic and Social Council, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the appropriate regional financial institutions to contribute to the designing of such a programme.
By a further provision of the text, the Council requests the Secretary- General, in coordination with the authorities, to submit by 31 May specific recommendations for a possible United Nations presence in the Central African Republic after the termination of MINURCA.
The MINURCA was established in March 1998 in order to help maintain and enhance security and stability in the Central African Republic and assist in ensuring full implementation of the Bangui Agreements, which were signed in January 1997 by the Government and army troops that had mutinied the previous year. The Agreements were monitored by a peacekeeping group of neighbouring States until MINURCA's establishment. The Mission was also designed to sustain a stable environment in Bangui, the capital, and help establish the necessary conditions for the holding of free and fair legislative elections, which were held in November and December 1998.
The meeting, which was called to order at 11:11 a.m., was adjourned at 11:40 a.m.
Council Work Programme
When the Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in the Central African Republic, it had before it a report of the Secretary- General (document S/1999/98) dated 29 January recommending the extension of the mandate of the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (MINURCA) for a further six months until 31 August. The current mandate is set to expire on 28 February.
Annexed to the report is a letter dated 23 January from the President of the Central African Republic, which makes a number of detailed commitments arising from the Bangui Agreements and in line with the concerns expressed by the Secretary-General's Special Representative to the Central African Republic, Oluyemi Adeniji, and those expressed by the international financial institutions.
The detailed commitments contained in the 23 January letter from President Patassé to the Secretary-General include: the participation of the opposition, in a constructive manner, in the National Assembly and its Bureau and in the political life of the country in general; adoption of the draft laws on the restructuring of the armed forces by the National Assembly at an early date and the approval by the President of the related draft decrees; and the restriction of the activities of the Special Defence Force of the Republican Institutions (FORSDIR) to exclude the functions of the police and gendarmerie and the verification by MINURCA of the measures taken by the authorities to that end.
The Secretary-General's report states that the extension was subject to a further determination by the Council, after three months, that the Government had made acceptable progress in carrying out the reforms outlined in President Patassé's letter of 23 January. In order to assist the Council in assessing adherence to the commitments made by the Government, the Secretary-General would submit an initial report by 15 April, followed by further reports every six to eight weeks.
The MINURCA has been a source of much-needed stability, both in the Central African Republic and in the subregion as a whole, the report states. The premature withdrawal of international support in any of the key areas could easily undermine and even reverse the fragile progress made so far. The MINURCA should continue to support efforts to resolve the political, economic and security-related problems facing the country and, to that end, should stay in the Central African Republic until the forthcoming presidential elections sometime this year, assisting in preparing a secure environment for the elections and monitoring their conduct.
The report adds that the military component of MINURCA should be retained at its current strength, which is 1,350 personnel. While the security situation in the capital, Bangui, is generally calm at the moment,
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the current stability is, in large part, the result of the presence and activities of MINURCA. The Government's commitment to carry out a number of necessary reforms is an indispensable condition for further progress. It is now imperative that the President's commitments be translated into concrete measures.
The report states that, in the elections held on 22 November and 13 December 1998 for the 109 seats in the National Assembly, the ruling party and its allies, known collectively as the Mouvance Présidentielle, won 54 seats, while the coalition of opposition parties won 55 seats. However, in the period following the formal proclamation of the results by the Constitutional Court, one opposition legislator announced his support for the Mouvance Présidentielle, giving that party a majority in the Assembly and the right to the presidency and other key positions of the Assembly's Bureau.
The opposition parties reacted strongly to this development, says the report, walking out of the Assembly shortly after it convened on 4 January 1999. Roadblocks and barricades were set up in certain parts of Bangui, and MINURCA was placed on alert and increased its patrolling activity before calm was restored. Despite intensive consultations with the parties conducted by the Secretary-General's Special Representative between 8 and 10 January, the impasse has persisted.
In accordance with the Bangui Agreements, signed in January 1997, the Government of the Central African Republic committed itself to a number of reforms. However, the most important of these, concerning the restructuring of the armed forces and the adoption of measures to strengthen the economy, remain to be accomplished. With the assistance and participation of MINURCA, a joint committee established by the Government has drawn up two draft bills and four draft decrees relating to the restructuring of the defence and security forces. These now await the approval of the National Assembly.
The Secretary-General goes on to say that the United Nations military personnel should neither engage in the military training of the personnel of the armed forces of the Central African Republic nor provide any form of operational assistance to them. However, the United Nations could assist in the creation of a renovated armed force under civilian democratic control that is representative of the nation as a whole and administered efficiently. A small team of United Nations military experts could provide managerial and organizational advice to the relevant officials of the Ministry of Defence of the Central African Republic in charge of the restructuring process. The proposed team of experts, numbering not more than 20 to 25 persons, would be accommodated within the already established limits of the force.
The general aim of the 24 civilian police officers attached to MINURCA is to assist in the creation of a police force whose personnel and operations meet internationally accepted standards of policing in democratic societies,
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the report adds. In that effort, they need the continued assistance of donors willing to provide the technical resources required by the restructured police force and gendarmerie, as well as the maintenance of a reasonably stable and secure environment.
On the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the report states that, in early January, heavy fighting broke out between the forces of President Laurent Kabila and Congolese rebels and their allies. The fighting resulted in an influx of some 5,000 persons into the territory of the Central African Republic, about half of whom were registered as refugees by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Pursuant to a defence agreement between President Patassé and President Kabila, some 550 Congolese government troops then transited through Bangui and across the river into Congolese territory. The opposition, stressing that the National Assembly has never ratified the defence agreement with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has accused President Patassé of risking the involvement of the Central African Republic in the conflict across the border.
In an addendum to his third report of December 1998 on MINURCA (document S/1998/1203/Add.1), the Secretary-General states that extending MINURCA's mandate, with its existing structure and strength -- including its political, military and civilian components -- as recommended in the earlier report, is projected to cost $62.1 million. That figure is based on the time frame for holding presidential elections in the latter part of 1999, with the electoral process to be completed by the end of October and the Mission terminated within the next 60 days.
The Council also had before it a draft resolution (document S/1999/122), sponsored by Canada, Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt, France, Gabon, Japan, Kenya, Senegal, Togo and the United States, which reads as follows:
"The Security Council,
"Reaffirming its resolutions 1125 (1997) of 6 August 1997, 1136 (1997) of 6 November 1997, 1152 (1998) of 5 February 1998, 1155 (1998) of 16 March 1998, 1159 (1998) of 27 March 1998, 1182 (1998) of 14 July 1998 and 1201 (1998) of 15 October 1998,
"Welcoming the holding of free and fair legislative elections on 22 November and 13 December 1998,
"Welcoming the report of the Secretary-General of 18 December 1998 (S/1998/1203) and its annex of 14 January 1999 (S/1998/1203/Add.1) and the report of the Secretary-General of 29 January 1999 (S/1999/98) and taking note of the recommendations contained therein,
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"Taking note of the request of 8 December 1998 from the President of the Central African Republic to the Secretary-General (S/1999/116, annex), and the letter of 23 January 1999 from the President of the Central African Republic to the Secretary-General (S/1999/98, annex),
"Reiterating the importance of the work done by the joint committee of the Government of the Central African Republic and the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (MINURCA) to address the restructuring of the Central African armed forces (FACA), and, stressing the necessity quickly to adopt the draft law and decrees on national defence and the structure of the defence forces,
"Reaffirming the link between socio-economic progress and the consolidation of peace in the Central African Republic and in that context taking note of the letter of 23 December 1998 from the President of the World Bank to the Secretary-General (S/1999/121, annex),
"Recalling the importance of regional stability and the need to consolidate the progress achieved so far, and in particular to assist the people of the Central African Republic to consolidate the process of national reconciliation taking into account the need to maintain a secure and stable environment conducive to the economic recovery and to the holding of free and fair presidential elections,
"Stressing the importance of cooperation and understanding by the Government of the Central African Republic, the newly elected legislators and the political groupings, so as to ensure the effective functioning of the National Assembly,
"Emphasizing the need for the Government of the Central African Republic to set the presidential elections dates as soon as possible, in accordance with article 23 of the Constitution of the Central African Republic,
"1. Decides to extend the mandate of MINURCA until 15 November 1999;
"2. Expresses its intention to commence the reduction of MINURCA personnel 15 days after the conclusion of the presidential elections in the Central African Republic with a view to full termination of the Mission no later than 15 November 1999;
"3. Further decides to review every 45 days, on the basis of reports of the Secretary-General, the mandate of MINURCA in light of the progress achieved towards implementation of the commitments made by the President of the Central African Republic to the Secretary-General in his letter of 23 January 1999;
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"4. Welcomes the intention of the Secretary-General to discuss with the President of the Central African Republic plans for the possibility of a progressive reduction of the MINURCA military component in anticipation of the 15 November 1999 termination date of the Mission, commensurate with the advances in the restructuring of the FACA, including taking into account the need to ensure the stability and security of Bangui;
"5. Urges the international community to lend its support to the restructuring of the security forces of the Central African Republic, including the Gendarmerie, through bilateral and multilateral assistance programmes, and reaffirms the role of MINURCA, in providing advice in the restructuring of the security forces of the Central African Republic and, in this connection, in coordinating and channelling international support to this end;
"6. Strongly reaffirms that the complete implementation of the Bangui Agreements and of the National Reconciliation Pact is essential to peace and national reconciliation in the Central African Republic, and urges the Government of the Central African Republic to continue to take concrete steps to implement political, economic, social and security reforms as referred to in the report of the Secretary-General of 23 February 1998 (S/1998/148) and to fulfil the commitments expressed in the letter of 8 January 1998 to the Secretary-General from the President of the Central African Republic (S/1998/61, annex) and in the letter of 23 January 1999 to the Secretary- General from the President of the Central African Republic;
"7. Calls upon all parties in the Central African Republic, with the assistance of the special representative of the Secretary-General, to take the necessary measures to resolve the current political impasse, with a view to enhancing the national reconciliation process;
"8. Further calls upon the Government of the Central African Republic to establish the new electoral commission as soon as possible in order to organize the presidential elections, and to establish and adhere to a time- table for the holding of these elections;
"9. Authorizes MINURCA to play a supportive role in the conduct of the presidential elections, in conformity with the tasks previously performed during the legislative elections of 22 November and 13 December 1998, recognizing the major responsibility which the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will have in the coordination of electoral assistance;
"10. Further authorizes MINURCA to supervise the destruction of confiscated weapons and ammunition under MINURCA control as recommended in paragraph 29 of the Secretary-General's third report on MINURCA dated 18 December 1998;
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"11. Encourages an increased role for an increased number of FACA troops to support the presidential elections process, to include the deployment of FACA troops to electoral sites to assist MINURCA personnel in the provision of security and logistical support, and notes in this exceptional case that those FACA troops assisting MINURCA in this context would during that time operate under United Nations rules of engagement;
"12. Welcomes the commitments made by the President of the Central African Republic in his letter to the Secretary-General of 23 January 1999 and urges the Government of the Central African Republic to fulfil these commitments, in particular:
"(a) To expedite the legislative process regarding national defence and the structure of defence forces with a view to adopting draft laws and decrees as prepared by the joint committee of the Government of the Central African Republic and MINURCA, by 15 April 1999;
"(b) To take steps to limit the mission of the Special Defence Force of the Republican Institutions (FORSDIR) to the protection of the Republican Institutions and of high-level authorities, excluding all police and maintenance of law and order tasks;
"(c) To continue to implement with the support of MINURCA the demobilization and reintegration programme funded by UNDP;
"(d) To establish no later than 1 April 1999 an implementation programme in accordance with the timetable established by the joint committee of the Government of the Central African Republic and MINURCA which should specify the key elements of the restructuring programme of the FACA to be implemented among them the need to create well-balanced geographical and multi-ethnic recruitment, the improvement of working conditions, including payment of salary and salary arrears, the provision of adequate infrastructure, equipment and support materials, and the redeployment of some of the restructured units outside of Bangui; "13. Also urges the Government of the Central African Republic to meet the requirements of the financial consolidation and economic reform programmes agreed with the international financial institutions;
"14. Requests the Government of the Central African Republic to refrain from any involvement in external conflicts, in conformity with the commitment expressed in the letter of 23 January 1999 from the President of the Central African Republic to the Secretary-General;
"15. Urges Member States to support financially and materially the restructuring programme of the FACA so as to facilitate its prompt implementation, and expresses its appreciation to those that have already done so;
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"16. Emphasizes that economic rehabilitation and reconstruction constitute important tasks facing the Government and people of the Central African Republic and that significant international assistance is indispensable for sustainable development in the Central African Republic, stresses the commitment of the international community to a long-term programme of support for the Central African Republic,and further urges the Economic and Social Council, UNDP, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the appropriate regional financial institutions to contribute to the designing of such a programme;
"17. Requests the Secretary-General to consider, in keeping with the statement of its President of 29 December 1998 (S/PRST/1998/38), what role the United Nations might play in the transition from peacekeeping to post-conflict peace-building in the Central African Republic, and further requests him, in consultation with the Government of the Central African Republic, to submit recommendations in this regard by 31 May 1999 on a possible United Nations presence in the Central African Republic after the 15 November 1999 termination of MINURCA;
"18. Requests the Secretary-General to submit by 15 April 1999 and every 45 days thereafter a report on the implementation of the mandate of MINURCA, on developments in the Central African Republic, in particular on the election process, on progress towards the implementation of the commitments expressed in the letters of 8 January 1998 and of 23 January 1999 from the President of the Central African Republic to the Secretary-General and on the implementation of the Bangui Agreements and the National Reconciliation Pact, including on commitments related to ensuring the country's economic recovery, the restructuring of the security forces and the functioning of the FORSDIR;
"19. Commends the efforts of the Special Representative and the personnel of MINURCA to promote peace and national reconciliation in the Central African Republic;
"20. Recalls the urgent need for Member States to contribute voluntarily to the trust fund established by the Secretary-General to support the activities of MINURCA;
"21. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter."
ALAIN DEJAMMET (France) said that the current draft resolution on extending MINURCA's mandate marked an important stage in the pursuit of peace and national reconciliation, begun in January 1997 with the conclusion of the Bangui accords. The results obtained by MINURCA since its establishment in April 1998 were important. The gains of the Inter-African Mission for Monitoring the Bangui Agreements had been retained, and the Central African
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Republic had remained, as the Secretary-General had stated in his report of 18 December, an island of relative stability in a region ravaged by war.
He said that the proper holding of the legislative elections last November and December had also marked an important stage in re-establishing the national institutions, that had been nearly entirely destroyed by the successive rebellions which had battered the country in 1996. It would be regrettable for the success of those elections to be tarnished by sterile political quarrels. The formation of a first restructuring unit of the country's armed forces and the continuation of the programme of demobilization, supported by the UNDP, were two encouraging signs of the will of the authorities to restructure their military forces.
That satisfactory progress, however, should not eclipse the fact that serious difficulties remained, he said. It would be a serious mistake for the Central African Republic authorities and political officers to believe that only the presence of MINURCA would make it possible to resolve all the problems. That presence was limited in duration, and the draft had spelled out that the Mission must end on 15 November at the very latest. Also, the responsibility for national reconciliation was based, above all, on the Central African Republic's citizens themselves.
It was essential for the Government to implement, as quickly as possible, the structural reforms, he said, as well as the commitments undertaken in a letter to the Secretary-General from President Patassé. The success and future mandate of MINURCA was closely linked to implementation of those commitments. Among the most important points to be taken up during the Council's periodic reviews was the pursuit of a constructive dialogue among all the country's political parties, in order to allow for the effective functioning of a new National Assembly and the commencement of free and equitable presidential elections. The restructuring of the country's armed forces was also crucial, as well as the implementation of the economic objectives. The extension of MINURCA would provide an outstanding opportunity for the parties to make progress and engage in constructive dialogue.
BABOUCARR-BLAISE ISMAILA JAGNE (Gambia) said MINURCA had been very instrumental in the search for peace in that country. It should also be recognized that the people of that country also made it possible for the Mission to be largely successful in the execution of its mandate. With regard to President Patassé's recommitment to reforms, he said that such actions were not only political, but economic and financial. Such vital institutions as the World Bank were also involved. The roles of MINURCA and those of other international institutions were mutually reinforcing.
He said that, without the presence of MINURCA, it went without saying that the progress made so far would not have been possible. "Therefore, we can state with guarded optimism that with the continued assistance of the rest
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of the international community, the problems of the Central African Republic could be resolved satisfactorily." In that connection, the continued cooperation of all the parties in that country was absolutely necessary. Considering that the overall situation was still volatile, and exacerbated by the conflict in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo, his delegation was of the strong view that it would be premature to conclude the mandate of MINURCA. ADRIAAN KOOIJMANS (Netherlands) said his country would vote in favour of the draft resolution to extend the mandate of MINURCA. He welcomed the fact that the draft integrated, in a comprehensive way, the central aspects of peace-building and reconstruction. In that approach, it was essential that the Government of the Central African Republic continued working closely with Economic and Social Council, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Bretton Woods institutions.
LIN CHENGXUN (China) supported the extension of MINURCA's mandate. Recently, conflicts had broken out in many parts of Africa, but the Central African Republic had managed to maintain its stability. That was the result of efforts by its Government, its people and MINURCA. The Mission had played a great role and it demonstrated that the Security Council could do concrete work for African countries and people.
The Bangui Agreements and the National Reconciliation Pact were the bases for reconciliation, peace and stability in the Central African Republic, he continued. He urged the international community to provide the necessary assistance to that country. He believed that reforms, especially the restructuring of the armed forces, were the internal affairs of a country. Therefore, the Council should not intervene too much in that area. He drew attention to operative paragraph 16 of the draft resolution and appealed to the international community to help the Central African Republic achieve genuine sustainable development and economic stability.
A. PETER BURLEIGH (United States) said his country would join consensus in voting to extend MINURCA's mandate through 15 November. That support reflected his country's concern over the deteriorating regional security situation in the Central African Republic and its respect for the Council's strong desire to continue that mission.
He said it must be clearly noted, however, that decision to endorse the extension was made despite his country's deep misgivings concerning the pace of reform and the need for government-coordinated programmes to improve the political, economic, social and military situation in the Central African Republic. He remained concerned that the Government would not meet its commitments under the resolution, yet his country was mindful of the need not to abandon African peacekeeping at a time of increased conflict on the continent, as well as the need to strengthen democracy in the Central African Republic.
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He said his country, therefore, had agreed to one further extension of MINURCA. In his view, that operation should be brief; a temporary window of opportunity during which the Government must implement stabilizing reforms. In agreeing to that extension, he had two continuing concerns. First, the Government must energetically avail itself of that renewed opportunity to institute the kind of reforms that would engender long-term stability. If the Government failed to meet the commitments expressed by its President in a letter to the Secretary-General on 23 January, then the United States, in consultation with other Council members, would seek to review the merits of maintaining a peacekeeping mission in that country through mid-November.
Second, he said the resolution clearly stated that MINURCA would end by 15 November. The Council and the Secretariat must begin work now to ensure a smooth transition from peacekeeping to non-assessed peace-building. Any delays in planning for that transition would be counter-productive and would not serve the best interests of the citizens of the Central African Republic. It was vital that the United Nations take steps now to formulate programmes for continued reform after MINURCA departs. Members of the "Friends of the Central African Republic" and United Nations officials must not delay in beginning to formulate a mechanism to ensure that economic restructuring, good governance reforms, demobilization, and military restructuring continued after the peacekeeping forces departed.
ROBERT FOWLER (Canada) said that since its establishment last year, MINURCA had contributed immensely to the maintenance of peace and security in the Central African Republic. The MINURCA had, thus far, provided vital assistance by ensuring the needed security, so that peace could be firmly established in that country. Canada was gratified at having participated in that Mission. The MINURCA had played a crucial role during the excellent conduct of legislative elections at the end of last year. Nonetheless, despite such major successes, the objectives had not yet been achieved.
He said that a number of problems of a security and economic and social nature had not yet been resolved. The Central African Republic was relatively calm and stable, but conflicts in neighbouring countries could have repercussions in that country and destroy the progress made so far. Many of the agreed economic and financial reforms had yet to be implemented, and another vital stage remained to be completed, namely, the presidential election. The holding of free and fair elections would signal significant progress and confirm the validity of the democratic agreement between the people and the Government.
The draft resolution reflected those realities and responded to the recommendations made by the Secretary-General, he said. Canada, in particular, agreed with the Secretary-General's assessment that MINURCA's continued presence at its current strength and force remained critical to maintaining peace and stability in the Central African Republic. The MINURCA would likely remain necessary until the forthcoming presidential election, and Canada anticipated
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remaining in MINURCA until its core objectives were realized. The primary responsibility for their achievement, however, lay not with the United Nations or with MINURCA, but with the Government, the political leaders and people of that country. The political parties were urged to resume their political dialogue, which was indispensable to achieving stability.
The resolution to extend the mandate of MINURCA was unanimously adopted as Security Council resolution 1130 (1999).
Speaking after the vote, ANTONIO DEINDE FERNANDEZ (Central African Republic) said that, in a democracy, it was important for the Government and the opposition to work together and to cooperate in furthering the interest of the State. The players, however, should be careful not to micro-manage the Government and attempt to distribute ministerial and/or parliamentary posts.
He said that the Constitutional Court had decided yesterday that those opposition members who had defected to the Government side had every right to do so. Therefore, the majority of the President's party in the Government was now official. In addition, the Bretton Woods group, which had been in the country for the past two weeks, had satisfactorily concluded its work and had indicated their agreement to re-establish economic cooperation with the Government.
On behalf of his Government, he expressed his gratitude to the Council for all the help rendered in a difficult period. He reassured the Council of his Government's determination to fulfil all of its obligations under the Bangui Agreements, as well the commitments made by his President in his letter to the Council.
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