‘Significant’ Progress Seen, But Community Tensions Persist, Official Says
The Central African Republic was entering a “crucial” phase of its delicate return to stability, the Special Representative in the country told the Security Council today, stressing that support from international and regional partners was critical for ensuring a smooth political transition and access to those still in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.
“The international community has a moral obligation to help the Central African Republic remain on the path of peace and reconciliation,” said Babacar Gaye, who is also head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). “It is our collective responsibility.”
Delivering his latest report on the situation (document S/2015/227), he said that, while “significant” headway had been made in protecting the population, intercommunal tensions linked to seasonal migration of Foulani farmers and their livestock persisted. Anti-Balakas in Bangui and the west of the country, like ex-Séléka in the centre and the east, sought to replace the State, and the slow return of State authority had not appeased tensions. At-risk populations, especially Muslim communities, were threatened, despite efforts by humanitarian actors and international forces.
The humanitarian situation also remained grave, he said. The number of displaced persons had risen by 50,000 since January, while humanitarian access had been undermined by the fragmentation of armed groups.
Turning to the political situation, he said historic local consultations, which ended in March, had covered all 16 prefectures and offered people a chance to express their views on issues at the heart of the crisis: justice and reconciliation, peace and security, governance and development priorities. The Government’s report on that dialogue would be a basis for discussion in the Bangui Forum, the Preparatory Commission of which had presented its final report to the Head of State of the Transition, the international community and the public.
Between 1 and 7 April, he said, the Government issued four decrees on the dates of the Forum and the establishment of its organization and technical committees. However, on the same day, the National Transitional Council President demanded the rescinding of the decree, citing a lack of consultation. Immediately, the Mission consulted national stakeholders and international partners with a view to diffusing tensions, efforts that led to yesterday’s issuance of a new decree on the composition of the Forum’s presidency.
In addition, he said, the Mission was preparing to facilitate discussions between the Transitional Authority and armed groups prior to the Forum. Those talks aimed to foster agreement on principles for security sector reform and a strategy for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, which would be refined during the Forum. The process would give armed groups a chance to recommit to the 23 July 2014 Cessation of Hostilities Agreement.
He said the completion of the inclusive Bangui Forum national dialogue would be another milestone in the transition. Commitments by national stakeholders — including political and military leaders of armed groups — was critical to keeping the transition on track and opening the way towards the organization of elections and the launch of longer-term national reconciliation. The Mission was supporting the “regroupment process” through labour-intensive public works projects in high-risk areas that targeted at-risk youth, including ex-combatants.
To be sure, he said, the electoral process faced challenges, including the registration of internally displaced persons and refugees outside the country. Security and financial issues continued to impede the work of the National Election Authority, which, as of 2 April, had established 97 of its 142 field offices. He expressed serious concern that the $44 million fund managed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) still had a 49 per cent funding gap. “The timely completion of the electoral process is linked to the timely receipt of funds,” he stressed.
Furthermore, the United Nations consolidated appeal for humanitarian aid covered only 13 per cent of necessary funds, he said, adding that completing the transition was only the start of the path towards stability and sustainable development in the country.
In addition to the Secretary-General’s report, the Council also had before it this morning a letter from the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations (document S/2015/248) transmitting a report on actions carried out by French forces from 15 November 2014 to 15 March 2015 in support of the Mission.
The meeting began at 11:09 a.m. and ended at 11:20 a.m.