Tomorrow (21 June), Special Representative and head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) Parfait Onanga-Anyanga; Special Representative of the AU to the Central African Republic (CAR) Moussa Nebie; and General Herminio Teodoro Maio, Commander of the EU Military Training Mission (EUTM RCA) in the CAR will brief the Council (the latter two via video-teleconference from Bangui). Instead of consultations, Council members will hold an informal interactive dialogue with Nebie and Onanga-Anyanga following the briefing. This format is being used to enable Nebie to participate, as only UN officials and Council members are permitted in consultations.
Onanga-Anyanga’s briefing will focus on the findings and analysis in the Secretary-General’s 18 June MINUSCA report (S/2018/611). The situation in the CAR has steadily deteriorated in recent months, including in Bangui and other localities. Self-proclaimed self-defence groups, loosely connected to some members of the anti-Balaka movement, have continued to operate in south-eastern CAR, targeting Muslims. Ex-Séléka, largely consisting of Muslim factions, continue to establish illegal parallel administration and taxation structures in areas under their control, preying on the population. The report notes that there has been a resurgence of sectarian rhetoric and intercommunal strife, which has undermined popular support for the state and its institutions, and the credibility of MINUSCA.
As the report further notes, MINUSCA has been strongly criticised for failing to restore security in Bangui, following a failed joint operation launched on 8 April with local security forces to clear the Muslim PK5 neighbourhood of armed groups and criminal elements. In one particularly violent encounter, armed criminal groups attacked MINUSCA troops on 10 April, leading to a firefight in which more than 30 people lost their lives, including many believed to have been involved in the attack. Demonstrators carried the bodies of 16 of those allegedly killed during the fighting to MINUSCA’s headquarters. Council members will be interested to hear from Onanga-Anyanga about MINUSCA’s efforts to restore peace and security, as well as its credibility, following these recent developments.
Another issue which will be of interest to Council members is the status of deployment of MINUSCA personnel. Resolution 2387 of 15 November 2017 authorised an increase of 900 military personnel, raising MINUSCA’s troop ceiling to 11,650 military personnel. Delays in the deployment of these additional troops, particularly in light of the grave security situation, were an area of focus when Council members were briefed by Onanga-Anyanga on the CAR under “any other business” on 23 May. The MINUSCA report notes that 400 additional Rwandan troops have been deployed as of 1 June and that an additional engineering company from Bangladesh will deploy later in the month, raising troop levels to 11,142. It further notes that 600 additional soldiers from Nepal should be deployed by September. On the other hand, Gabon announced the withdrawal of its 444 soldiers in March, amidst allegations of sexual abuse and inadequate equipment.
General Maio will likely update the Council on the work of the EUTM RCA and the readiness of the troops it has been training. This will be of particular interest to Council members in light of the recent request from the Secretary-General regarding possible MINUSCA support for the redeployment of the CAR security forces, contained in his 16 May letter (S/2018/463). The letter recommended that the Council authorise MINUSCA to provide limited operational and logistical support to the CAR security forces trained by the EUTM RCA for a period of 12 months, starting on 1 July. It stressed that without this support, the ability of the CAR to restore peace and establish state authority would be undermined. The MINUSCA report refers back to the letter and states that such deployment could lay the groundwork for the gradual exit of MINUSCA.
Council members have disagreed in the past over whether MINUSCA should be assisting the authorities with personnel who have been linked to human rights violations, while faced with the reality that MINUSCA is unable to be present in large parts of the CAR without the deployment of these national forces. In addition, concerns have been raised regarding the ability of MINUSCA to take on the additional task of assisting and monitoring the deployment of national forces, as it is stretched thin and undermanned as is, on top of budgetary considerations.
Nebie will likely update the Council on the African Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation in the CAR. The panel of facilitators of the initiative conducted a second round of consultations with 14 armed groups from February to April, during which the panel received their demands and proposals. Most notable, however, was the panel’s disappointment that violence against civilians continued unabated, and that the commitment of armed groups to the process remained questionable.