NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 19 – The participants in a high level meeting on the situation in the Central African Republic called upon the CAR authorities to take urgent political measures, within the framework of ongoing dialogue and mediation initiatives, specifically through the effective implementation of the cessation of hostilities, as agreed by representatives of Central African authorities and the fourteen armed groups in Rome on 19 June 2017 under the auspices of the Community of Sant’Egidio.
“The participants underscored that those efforts should go together with the implementation of concrete reforms within the security, defence, justice and national reconciliation sectors, with the support of the entire international community”, a note from the co-chairs of the meeting stated.
The ministerial meeting was held on the margins of the 72nd ordinary session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, co-chaired by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Antonio Guterres, the President of the Central African Republic, Mr. Faustin-Archange Touadéra, and the President of the African Union Commission, Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat. The meeting was organized in partnership with the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the European Union and the World Bank. The members of the International Support Group (the former International Contact Group) as well as other key partners also participated in the meeting which will meet again in six months time.
President Touadéra presented the strategy of the Central African Government for the restoration of state authority since the country’s return to constitutional order and the establishment of national institutions, and expressed his will to pursue peacebuilding and national reconciliation through dialogue. He also renewed his commitment to undertake institutional and political reforms aimed at increasing the efficiency of the Government and public services through the transparent management of limited State resources and by ensuring changes among of political and administrative officials, taking into consideration the need to ensure a better representation of minorities and women, as reflected in the composition of the new Government. These reforms will contribute to peacebuilding efforts, as well as national reconciliation, and will reinforce efforts made to implement the National Recovery and Peacebuilding Plan in the Central African Republic (RCPCA) and the Framework of Mutual Accountability (CEM-RCA), both of which were signed during the donors conference on the Central African Republic, which took place on 17 November 2016 in Brussels.
The participants welcomed the progress made in several areas, such as the dialogue with armed groups; the launch of the Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration and Repatriation (DDRR) pilot project; the adoption of a national strategy for the restoration of State authority; the adoption of a national security policy and national strategy for the reform of the security sector (SSR); the adoption and promulgation of a military justice code; the validation of a reform plan for the Internal Security Forces (ISF); the recruitment of 500 police and gendarmerie officers; economic recovery efforts; the progressive operationalisation of the Special Criminal Court; the nomination of the Steering Committee for the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; as well as efforts to promote and protect human rights, particularly of women and children. The participants also welcomed the inclusion, within the Government, of a greater number of representatives from political parties, persons close to armed groups which have accepted to adhere to the peace process, and representatives of civil society.
Despite this progress, a number of challenges remain in terms of security, humanitarian assistance, justice, reconciliation and socioeconomic development. The full commitment of the Government and all national actors, as well as international partners, is necessary to prevent the country from returning to a crisis situation similar to the one in 2013. In doing so, the participants also welcomed the commitment of President Touadéra to implement, before the end of the first trimester of 2018, the priority actions in the RCPCA in order to reinforce security during the transhumance period and to progressively extend State authority and the delivery of basic social services. The participants also commended the efforts of President Touadéra to address the delays in the implementation of key initiatives.
The participants strongly condemned the violence against civilians and humanitarian actors since the beginning of May 2017 in the southeast of the Central African Republic and, more recently, in the northwest, which has led to a serious deterioration of the humanitarian and security situations. They expressed their deep concern with the seriousness of the humanitarian situation as well as the risk of an escalation of the conflict. The participants recalled that the responsibility to respond to those emergencies rests primarily with the Central African Government. They invited the partners of the Central African Republic to devote particular attention to this situation in support of the efforts of the Government, and expressed their concern about the underfunding of the revised Humanitarian Response Plan, which continues to hamper its implementation. They also underscored the importance to reinforce the Mission’s capabilities, including the military personnel of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), in order to enable the Mission to fulfil its mandate, especially in terms of protecting civilians. The participants thanked all troop- and police-contributing countries for their support for the peace and stabilisation process in the Central African Republic. The participants paid tribute to the personnel of MINUSCA that sacrificed their life at the service of peace.
Convinced that the continuous presence of armed groups represents the most immediate obstacle to the stability and recovery of the country, the participants strongly condemned intercommunal violence, often targeting civilians based on their ethnic or religious affiliation, and welcomed in this regard the call for a cessation of hostilities launched by the Facilitation Panel of the African Initiative. They condemned the continuous attacks against MINUSCA peacekeepers and recently against humanitarian workers and religious leaders. The participants urgently called on the Government to publicly condemn those attacks and to identify and bring to justice the perpetrators and instigators of them. The participants also demanded that all parties immediately cease hostilities and respect humanitarian principles to enable the continuous delivery of humanitarian assistance.
The participants strongly supported President Touadéra’s vision as well as his immediate priorities to address the root causes of the conflict and foster the long-term development of the country. They noted the significant efforts of the Government that enabled the closure of all sites for internally-displaced persons in Bangui and in a number of towns in the hinterland. They encouraged the Central African authorities to pursue their efforts for an inclusive approach associating all parts of Central African society in the reconstruction of the Central African Republic, in order to reinforce social cohesion and the return of internally-displaced persons as well as refugees.
The participants also renewed their firm support for the African Initiative, under the leadership of President Touadéra and co-supported by the African Union, ECCAS, and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) with the support of Angola, Chad, Congo and Gabon, and reiterated the will of partners of the peace process, particularly the United Nations, to work closely with the African Initiative in the search of a sustainable agreement on peace and reconciliation. While paying tribute to Mr. Hacen Lebatt, the participants welcomed the nomination of his successor Bédializoun Moussa Nébié as the Special Representative of the African Union to the Central African Republic and the success of the first meeting of the Panel of Facilitators, under the auspices of the African Union, of the African Initiative in Bangui on 11 and 12 September 2017. They recommended a close and effective cooperation between the African Union, the United Nations, ECCAS, the European Union, the Community of Sant’Egidio and all regional and international partners. They encouraged the Central African authorities to take urgent political measures, within the framework of ongoing dialogue and mediation initiatives, specifically through the effective implementation of the cessation of hostilities, as agreed by representatives of Central African authorities and the fourteen armed groups in Rome on 19 June 2017 under the auspices of the Community of Sant’Egidio. The participants underscored that those efforts should go together with the implementation of concrete reforms within the security, defence, justice and national reconciliation sectors, with the support of the entire international community.
The participants reaffirmed that the roadmap adopted by the ministerial conference held in Libreville on 17 July 2017, constitutes the main framework for a political solution in the Central African Republic. They welcomed the decision of the Panel of Facilitators to ensure consistency, in a strategic and operational partnership with the United Nations, by aggregating all of the ongoing procedures and initiatives, including the parliamentary and civil society efforts, and to invite all their sponsors to mobilise together around the African Initiative, which is now common to all. The participants also underscored the responsibility of countries neighboring the Central African Republic to contribute to resolving the crisis. The participants also noted the decision of the Panel of Facilitators Panel and the urgent call from President Touadéra on the need and importance to include in the Panel representatives of neighbouring countries of the Central African Republic that host a number of Central African refugees.
The participants called on the international community and donors to sustain adequate financial support for the implementation of the RCPCA and to better coordinate their activities. The participants encouraged the Central African authorities to increase coordination of the contributions on partners in the implementation of the RCPCA. The participants congratulated the important contribution of the African Union and the United Nations in stabilisation efforts, specifically through MINUSCA, and those of other strategic partners of the Central African Republic, including ECCAS, the European Union and the World Bank. (@OnuItalia)