Although the situation in the Central African Republic remained volatile following the recent violence in Bangui, the political process was once again moving forward, a senior United Nations official told the Security Council this morning.
In the wake of agreements reached among stakeholders in the country, the region and international partners to request the mediator to extend the transition period by six months until August 2015, preparations were actively under way to lay the groundwork for the Bangui Forum on National Reconciliation early next year, said Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations.
As the contours of the Forum began to take shape, he told the 15‑member body, there was a growing consensus on the need to address the range of issues that lay at the heart of the crisis, including the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of armed groups and preparations for security sector reform.
The Forum should aim to be the starting point for the longer-term reconciliation process at all levels of society, he said, adding that various leaders of the increasingly fragmented ex-Seleka and anti-Balaka factions had held general assemblies and publicly expressed support for the national dialogue process, including the Forum.
“A successful and timely Forum will be vital to prepare the ground for the planned constitutional referendum as well as legislative and presidential elections,” Mr. Ladsous said.
Despite those positive steps, the conduct of elections by the target date would be “extremely challenging”, he underlined, asserting that success would depend on a significantly strengthened commitment of the Central African Republic authorities as well as the international community’s political, operational and financial support. National authorities needed to adopt the revised electoral law and agree on outstanding issues, including with regard to the sequencing of elections and a transparent voter registration methodology.
Amid the highly volatile security situation in the country, the priorities of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) remained focused on the protection of civilians. Securing the complete deployment of the troop and police and presence was also urgent.
Delaying elections beyond August 2015 could undermine the transition itself, he said, urging the Central African authorities to stay the course and the country’s regional and international partners to remain engaged in a sustained and coordinated manner.
Also briefing the Council, Raimonda Murmokaitė of Lithuania and Chair of the Central African Republic Sanctions Committee established pursuant to resolution 2127 (2013), said the sanctions regime should not be seen as a punitive measure, but as a tool for collaborative engagement.
Highlighting the work of the Panel of Experts on the Central African Republic, she stated that armed groups remained in control of or still exerted influence over almost all inhabited areas of the country. The competition among political representatives of armed groups for ministerial positions, as well as among military commanders for control of resources, accounted for the recent infighting, she added.
Further, she added, the increasing fragmentation of the main armed groups active in the country posed significant challenges to stabilizing the political landscape. The Panel’s report also stressed that any improvement in the security situation in the Central African Republic also depended on the neighbouring States’ continuous commitment to the peace process. Accordingly, Ms. Murmokaitė detailed the correspondence sent by the Panel to various countries in the region.
The Committee had requested, she noted, the six Member States neighbouring the Central African Republic to convey annually complete statistics on the import and export of natural resources, including diamonds and gold. The Committee also urged exporters, importers, processors and consumers of Central African diamonds to mitigate the risk of exacerbating the conflict in the Central African Republic.
The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 10:41 a.m.