COUNCIL EXTENDS CENTRAL AFRICAN MANDATE UNTIL 28 FEBRUARY 1999

15 October 1998
SC/6585

COUNCIL EXTENDS CENTRAL AFRICAN MANDATE UNTIL 28 FEBRUARY 1999

15 October 1998

Press ReleaseSC/6585

COUNCIL EXTENDS CENTRAL AFRICAN MANDATE UNTIL 28 FEBRUARY 1999

19981015

The Security Council this morning extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (MINURCA) until 28 February 1999, at which time the Council intends for the Mission to be terminated. The Council decided further that the Mission's mandate should include support for the conduct of legislative elections in that country.

That support would include in particular: the transport of electoral materials and equipment to selected sites and to the sous-préfectures, as well as the transport of United Nations electoral observers to and from the electoral sites; the conduct of a limited but reliable international observation of the first and second rounds of the legislative elections; and ensuring the security of electoral materials and equipment during their transport to and at the selected sites, as well as the security of international electoral observers.

As it voted unanimously to adopt resolution 1201 (1998), the Council also approved a plan to provide security for the election process involving the temporary redeployment of MINURCA troops to six selected sites, complemented by 150 troops of the Central African Armed Forces (FACA) under MINURCA's operational control.

The Council called on the Central African authorities to provide assistance, including security arrangements that would enable the Mixed and Independent Electoral Commission (CEMI) to prepare adequately and freely for the elections.

Further, the Council urged Member States to provide the required technical, financial and logistical assistance for the organization of free and fair elections.

The Council requested the Secretary-General to keep it regularly informed and to submit by 20 December a report on the implementation of MINURCA's mandate, on developments in the Central African Republic, on progress towards the implementation of the commitments made by the country's

President to the Secretary-General and on the implementation of the Bangui agreements and the National Reconciliation Act.

Also, the Council requested the Secretary-General to make recommendations concerning the termination of MINURCA.

The meeting, which began at 11:50 a.m., was adjourned at 11:54 a.m.

Council Work Programme

The Security Council met this morning to take up the situation in the Central African Republic. It had before it a report of the Secretary-General in which he makes recommendations on ways the United Nations could assist the country's legislative election process (document S/1998/783 and Add.1). He also makes proposals regarding the provision of security to the electoral observers and material during the election process.

The report states that Government authorities have made substantial progress in the preparations for the elections. The operational activities of the Electoral Commission, however, are well behind schedule and the original date of 20 September has been delayed.

The Secretary-General describes a plan developed by the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (MINURCA) for United Nations assistance by which MINURCA could provide the transport of electoral materials and equipment to selected sites and to the sous-préfectures and their retrieval, as well as the transport of United Nations observers to and from the selected sites. It could also provide a limited but reliable international observation of the first and second rounds of the legislative elections and ensure the security of materials and equipment as well as the United Nations observers.

According to this plan, MINURCA would transport the electoral materials and equipment to the 15 sous-préfectures located near Bangui. For the provinces, MINURCA could transport the bulk of electoral materials and equipment by air to six selected sites and from there to the remaining sous- preféctures that are accessible by road or air.

The MINURCA would conduct a limited observation of the legislative elections in close cooperation with other international organizations that might be invited by the Commission. A total of 14 medium-term and 80 short- term electoral observers is proposed to monitor the elections and assess their results. Under the plan, it is estimated that the teams would be able to visit at least 25 per cent of the polling stations.

On the question of security, the Secretary-General presents two options. Under the first, it is estimated that the security of the electoral material

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and observers outside Bangui would best be provided by a minimum of 450 troops, of which 150 current MINURCA troops would be temporarily redeployed from Bangui to the six selected provincial sites. The remaining 300 troops would have to be provided by troop-contributing countries, to supplement the current authorized strength of the military component of MINURCA.

Under the second option, a maximum of 250 current MINURCA troops would be temporarily redeployed to the six selected sites, complemented by 150 Central African Armed Forces (FACA) troops, for a total strength of 400. During the period of deployment at the six selected sites, the 150 national troops would be under the operational control of MINURCA. An estimated period of six weeks would be required for the redeployment of the MINURCA and FACA troops. In that connection, the FACA elements that would cooperate with MINURCA could serve as the nucleus for the building of a republican, multi- ethnic Central African army.

Under both options, the troops would escort the electoral materials and equipment during their transport and retrieval. While ensuring security at the six provincial sites, the troops would escort and deliver electoral materials to and from the sous-préfectures and the polling stations. The MINURCA would not provide for the security of electoral materials at any sous- préfecture or polling station outside those sites. The deployment of troops under either option was based on the assumption that two platoon-sized elements of 30 to 40 personnel each would be required to provide security at each of the six selected sites. They would be deployed six weeks before the elections. Should the Council approve a new mandate for MINURCA in support of the electoral process, the Mission's current rules of engagement would need to be reviewed.

The Secretary-General stresses that the ultimate responsibility for the organization and conduct of the elections must rest with the Electoral Commission. It is essential for the Commission to take measures to ensure the timely delivery and retrieval of electoral material to all polling stations. He stressed that the Central African authorities will be responsible for the maintenance of law and order throughout the country during the election process.

The Secretary-General expresses gratification that the training of the national gendarmerie has started and that a joint Government-MINURCA committee on the restructuring of the national armed forces has been established. He states that the Government must continue to give priority attention to the training issue.

The addendum to the report gives electoral assistance cost estimates for a two-month period. Under the first option, the total costs would be $6.318 million and under the second option the costs would be $3.798 million. The Secretary-General states that should the Council decide to expand MINURCA's

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mandate to include electoral assistance, he would recommend to the General Assembly that the related cost should be considered an expense of the Organization.

Draft Resolution

The Council had before it a draft resolution (document S/1998/948), the text of 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 and 1182 (1998) of 14 July 1998,

"Welcoming the report of the Secretary-General of 25 August 1998 (S/1998/783 and Add.1) and noting the recommendations contained therein,

"Stressing that the complete implementation of the Bangui Agreements (S/1998/561) and of the National Reconciliation Pact (S/1998/219), annex) is essential to peace and national reconciliation in the Central African Republic, and recognizing the significant progress made by the Government of the Central African Republic in implementing the Bangui Agreements and initiating major political and economic reforms,

"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 and to help sustain a secure and stable environment conducive to the holding of free and fair elections,

"Emphasizing that the authorities of the Central African Republic and the Mixed and Independent Electoral Commission (CEMI) are responsible for the organization and conduct of the legislative elections,

"Noting with satisfaction the adoption of an operational plan for the organization of the legislative elections by the CEMI and welcoming donor pledges made in support of the electoral process,

"Recognizing the importance of the support already given by the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (MINURCA) to the CEMI in the preparation for the elections,

"1. Welcomes the announcement by the authorities of the Central African Republic and the CEMI to hold legislative elections on 22 November and 13 December 1998;

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"2. Decides that the mandate of MINURCA shall include support for the conduct of legislative elections as described in section III of the report of the Secretary-General of 21 August 1998, in particular:

"(a) The transport of electoral materials and equipment to selected sites and to the sous-préfectures, as well as the transport of United Nations electoral observers to and from electoral sites;

"(b) The conduct of a limited but reliable international observation of the first and second rounds of the legislative elections;

"(c) Ensuring the security of electoral materials and equipment during their transport to and at the selected sites, as well as the security of the international electoral observers;

"3. Approves the recommendation contained in paragraph 25 of the above- mentioned report of the Secretary-General regarding the provision of security during the legislative election process, taking into account the need to ensure the stability and security of Bangui and in accordance with the cost estimate associated with this recommendation contained in the addendum to that report;

"4. Welcomes the establishment of a joint committee of the Government of the Central African Republic and MINURCA to address the restructuring of the Central African Armed Forces (FACA), and reiterates its call upon the Government of the Central African Republic to adopt as soon as possible a plan for the effective restructuring of its armed forces;

"5. Welcomes the deployment of up to 150 FACA troops to the selected sites, operating under United Nations rules of engagement applicable to MINURCA;

"6. Calls upon the Central African authorities to provide the necessary assistance, including the security arrangements, that will enable the CEMI to prepare adequately and freely for the legislative elections;

"7. Urges all parties in the Central African Republic to assume fully their responsibilities in the legislative elections and to participate in them in a manner that will strengthen the democratic process and contribute to national reconciliation;

"8. Urges Member States to provide the required technical, financial and logistical assistance for the organization of free and fair legislative elections;

"9. Decides to extend the mandate of MINURCA until 28 February 1999;

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"10. Requests the Secretary-General to keep the Security Council regularly informed and to submit by 20 December 1998 the report called for in its resolution 1182 (1998) on the implementation of the mandate of MINURCA, on developments in the Central African Republic, on progress towards the implementation of the commitments expressed in the letter of 8 January 1998 from the President of the Central African Republic to the Secretary-General (S/1998/61, annex) and on the implementation of the Bangui Agreements and the National Reconciliation Pact, including on commitments related to ensuring the country's economic recovery and the restructuring of the security forces;

"11. Expresses its intention to terminate MINURCA no later that 28 February 1999, with its drawdown beginning no later than 15 January 1999, and requests the Secretary-General to make recommendations on this basis in his report referred to in paragraph 10 above;

"12. Expresses its appreciation to the Secretary-General, his Special Representative and the personnel of MINURCA for their efforts to promote peace and national reconciliation in the Central African Republic;

"13. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter."

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For information media. Not an official record.