Reporting on what he called significant progress in the Central African Republic in emerging from civil strife, the United Nations top peacekeeping official this morning stressed that the international community must stand firmly by the Government to overcome “spoilers” and other serious challenges that remained.
“While the needs are many, I am convinced that with our concerted and continued support, Central Africans can lay the foundations for peace,” Hervé Ladsous Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said in his triannual briefing on the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) to the Security Council. The Chair of the Central African Republic configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission also briefed the 15-member body.
Mr. Ladsous introduced the Secretary-General’s report on developments in the Central African Republic from April to mid-September (document S/2016/824), which welcomed the inauguration of a democratically elected president, Faustin-Archange Touadéra, and pledged the Mission’s full support to his Government in such critical efforts as reintegration of armed groups, reform of the security sector, improvement of still grave humanitarian conditions, inclusive economic development, reconciliation and other necessary components of peace consolidation. Such efforts, the Secretary-General noted, would take “dedication and time”.
Updating the Council on key developments since the issuance of the report, Mr. Ladsous said that the end of the rainy season — a traditionally volatile period — had been used by armed groups and other spoilers to advance their interests. Last week, dozens of people were killed in unrest following the shooting of a member of the Central African Armed Forces in a predominantly Muslim neighbourhood.
MINUSCA, he said, acted decisively to prevent intercommunal violence from spreading, securing the perimeter of the neighbourhood, coordinating its response with the national authorities, responding to the needs of civilians, encouraging community dialogue and continuing to support efforts to address impunity.
Clashes also took place in the north-west and the Kaga Bandoro region between anti-Balaka and ex-Séléka factions, resulting in attacks on civilians and aid groups, causing operations to be suspended in September, he said. Activity of those factions had also been reported in the north-east of the country. MINUSCA continued to maintain a robust posture against such violence and was enforcing weapons-free zones.
In contrast to the worrying flare-ups of armed activity, he said that national authorities continued implementing President Touadéra’s agenda, including engaging 11 out of 14 armed groups in a dialogue on reintegration. MINUSCA was meeting with armed groups to encourage their participation.
For the international support needed, he said, the importance of the Brussels donor conference on 17 November, for which the country’s five-year needs had been assessed and a framework for accountability created, “could not be over-emphasized”. Sustained international engagement had often been lacking in previous crises in the country, leading to relapse into violence. “While the primary responsibility rests with the Central Africans, we must ensure that this mistake is not repeated,” he stressed.
Abderrazzak Laassel (Morocco), Chair of the Central African Republic configuration, next briefed the Council on the ninth meeting of the International Contact Group for the country, chaired by the African Union and the Republic of the Congo. At that meeting, interlocutors had expressed the need for strong political and financial support for disarmament, demobilization, repatriation and reintegration, he said.
Noting that MINUSCA had the challenging task of supporting reform of the security sector, he said that the European Union had initiated a military mission to train two battalions of the Central African Armed Forces, known as the FACA, in the effort to build a professional army. Based on the draft National Security Policy, the reform programme would need reinforcement of the police and gendarmerie, as well as a clarification of their respective mandates, with the aim of extending State authority in the entire territory.
National reconciliation remained a matter of concern, he said, as a national reconciliation strategy had not yet been adopted. Some local initiatives were encouraging, especially the activities of the religious platform. National reconciliation, however, could not be successful without addressing the issue of impunity, he said, noting that some key steps had been taken towards the establishment of the Special Criminal Court.
He said support of the international community would be crucial in the coming months. Highlighting the need for success of the upcoming donor’s conference in Brussels, he said the national strategy for recovery and peace consolidation, as well as a framework for mutual accountability with the international community, would need to be shared in advance.
Following those briefings, Ambroisine Kpongo (Central African Republic) agreed that despite progress and the work of the international community, the situation in her country remained fragile and must remain the focus of the Council. She said bandits stood in the way of peace and development and armed groups continued to sow terror. Full implementation of Council resolutions was needed, as well as adequate support to MINUSCA to allow it to fulfil its mandate.
She called the Secretary-General’s report edifying in its identification of progress, but affirmed the need for much work ahead. Dialogue and other peacebuilding efforts had been initiated, but peace continued to be threatened. Until there was peace, the outcome of Brussels would not be effective. The recent election meant that the President was not the president of one group but of the whole country, and he must be supported in his efforts to improve the situation.
Also addressing the Council today, Luis Bermúdez (Uruguay) thanked the speakers for their presentations, recognizing progress in the Central African Republic. He said that it was now necessary to build on that progress by addressing the root causes of the crisis, as well as the urgent security and humanitarian situation. He expressed hope that the newly elected Government and MINUSCA would continue to cooperate to improve the situation and combat impunity.
The meeting began at 11:10 a.m. and ended at 11:42 a.m.
* The 7786th Meeting was closed.