Peacekeeping Chief Urges ‘Uncompromising’ Rejection of Obstructionists, as Sanctions Committee Chair Reports on Travel-Ban Violations
Fresh from a constitutional referendum, the Central African Republic was now entering the final and most sensitive phase of its electoral process, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations told the Security Council today, as he called for “uncompromising” rejection of any attempt to obstruct the country’s return to constitutional order.
Hervé Ladsous said the Central African Republic was moving ahead towards ending its transition, with the first round of presidential and legislative elections set to take place on 27 December, despite repeated attempts to derail the process. “We must not allow attempts by a few, as demonstrated yesterday, to disrupt the hopes and aspirations of many for a successful electoral process,” he emphasized.
Mr. Ladsous, who presented the Secretary-General’s report on the situation in that country (document S/2015/918), was joined by Raimonda Murmokaitė (Lithuania), Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 2127 (2013) concerning the Central African Republic. The Council also had before it a 10 December letter from the Secretary-General (document S/2015/943), transmitting the report on the activities of Operation Sangaris, from 15 July to 15 November 2015.
The Under-Secretary-General said that while the constitutional referendum had been held successfully in most of the country, efforts to undermine the process by elements of the anti-Balaka and ex-Séléka Front Populaire pour la Renaissance de la Centrafrique, led by Nourredine Adam, had been reported in Bangui and other regions. In Bangui and Bria, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) had taken proactive measures to allow voting to proceed in some polling centres. However, spoilers in Birao, Bossangoa, Ndele and Kaga-Bandoro had resorted to violence and intimidation of voters and electoral staff, preventing the conduct of the referendum. Three peacekeepers had been injured in incidents in Bangui and Bria.
Nonetheless, the unprecedented registration of nearly two million voters — representing 95 per cent of the estimated electorate — had shown their strong desire for change, he said, adding that one third of potential voters among refugees had also registered. “We must ensure that Central Africans — whether inside or outside the country — can cast a vote to elect their future Government free of intimidation,” he stressed. MINUSCA would continue to lend technical, logistical and security support to enable the Transitional Authorities to achieve those objectives.
In that context, he welcomed the signing on 9 December of the Electoral Code of Conduct by presidential candidates, and called upon all stakeholders to respect the decision of the Constitutional Court to approve a final list of 30 candidates, including one woman. Continuing support from the subregion, the broader international community and the Security Council was absolutely essential in that regard, he said, encouraging the immediate disbursement of all funding pledges.
Turning to the “fragile” security situation, he said MINUSCA and Operation Sangaris were pursuing a robust approach to protecting civilians and creating a secure environment for the conduct of free and fair elections. Mission contingents had been redeployed to sensitive zones, he added, thanking the Council for having approved the temporary redeployment of 300 members of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) rapid reaction force to MINUSCA. He also welcomed attempts to open up space for dialogue, citing the launch of a pre-disarmament, demobilization and reintegration stage, as well as a recent round table on security, which had helped to shape a national vision of security-sector reform.
However, there was “a long way to go” for the integration of ex-combatants into the national security forces, he cautioned, urging the international community to pursue and apprehend perpetrators of grave human rights violations, and to support the creation of a special criminal court in the Central African Republic. Encouraged by the 12 December reopening of the Ngaragba central prison in Bangui, he stressed that it must be renovated following “mass escapes” from the September crisis and expressing concern at the lack of national capacity to administer prisons.
Time was “of the essence” in working to contain attempts to undermine the political process, he said, while underlining that the elections were not an end in themselves. To address the root causes of the crisis, “we will need to support the new Government in working in a spirit of unity, inclusivity and reconciliation”, and the Council’s support would be essential in that regard.
Following those remarks, Ms. Murmokaitė said her Committee had met with the Panel of Experts to consider its final report and recommendations, according to which armed groups were in control of, or still exerted influence over, almost all inhabited areas of the Central African Republic, presenting a “key risk” to the elections amid ongoing attacks against peacekeepers. Furthermore, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) was using the country to gather resources.
She said that on 22 April, the Committee had held deliberations on reported travel-ban violations by former president Francois Bozizé and ex-Séléka leader Nourredine Adam. On 12 June, the Coordinator of the Panel of Experts had drawn attention to the lack of cooperation by some regional States and noted scepticism regarding the prospects for implementation of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration agreement as signed. On 3 August, the Committee had discussed the arms embargo and related exemption procedures, and had agreed to revise its Guidelines to allow the Central African Republic to submit arms embargo exemptions. She recommended improving the weapons storage capacity of the armed forces.
Turning to violence against children, a big issue, she recommended adding more names to the sanctions list, particularly in relation to the exploitation of children and sexual violence. On 3 December, the Committee had met with the Security Council Working Group on Children and armed Conflict and with Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. With the latest “statements of case” on 18 November, the total number of cases submitted by the Panel stood at 25, of which 20 were individuals and five were entities.
She went on to report on her follow-up efforts with Kenya and South Africa regarding travel-ban violations, recalling that she had proposed that the Council President and the Committee Chair hold joint bilateral meetings with the delegations of those countries. She warned that if Member States were unable or unwilling to implement the travel ban, the Council’s silence would send the wrong message that there were no consequences for violating a travel ban.
The meeting began at 10:07 a.m. and ended at 10:30 a.m.