Central African Republic
The United Nations has been engaged for more than a decade in efforts to help the Central African Republic (CAR) overcome a history of political instability and recurring armed conflict. Four of the country’s five Presidents since independence in 1960 have been removed from power through unconstitutional means. State authority is weak in many parts of the country and ethnic tensions in the north, as well as rebel activity and the presence of the armed Ugandan group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), have added to insecurity and instability which has caused significant internal displacement.
UN political efforts are led on the ground by the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA), a field office of the Department of Political Affairs headed by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Central African Republic, Ms. Margaret Vogt of Nigeria. BINUCA's conversion in January 2010 to an “integrated” mission was designed to ensure the coherence of peace-building support activities by the various UN entities present in the CAR. BINUCA operates under a mandate from the Security Council to help consolidate peace and national reconciliation, strengthen democratic institutions to promote the rule of law, and mobilize international political support and resources for national reconstruction and economic recovery. The Office also promotes public awareness of human rights issues as well as monitoring developments and strengthening civil society capacity in this regard.
BINUCA played a significant role encouraging the signing of a 2008 peace agreement between the Government and rebel groups, whose alleged lack of implementation led to renewed conflict in late 2012, when a rebel coalition known as Séléka seized large parts of the country. Séléka, composed of the Convention Patriotique pour le Salut du Kodro, the Convention des Patriotes pour la Justice et la Paix Centrafrique, the Union des Forces Démocratiques pour le Rassemblement and the Front Démocratique du Peuple Centrafricain, threatened to overthrow President François Bozizé, accusing his Government of failing to honor the agreement under which fighters were to have received payments in exchange for laying down their arms.
Agreements to resolve the crisis were signed in January 2012 in the Gabonese capital Libreville, under the aegis of the Economic Community of Central African States. BINUCA contributed to the search for a political solution by providing logistical and technical support to the talks among the warring parties, and support was also provided by the UN Office for Central Africa. In addition to a cease-fire, it was agreed that President Bozizé remain in power and that a Prime Minister from the opposition be appointed. Parties also pledged to form a Government of national unity and organize legislative elections within 12 months, after adopting a bill on the new electoral code and the national authority for elections.