Central African Republic - Security Council, 9074th Meeting

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22-Jun-2022 02:01:29
Landmark meeting marks ‘critical juncture’ towards peace in Central African Republic, Special Representative tells Security Council, urging support for follow-up.

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Having spent her inaugural months working to build trust and revive the political process in the Central African Republic, the Special Representative for the country today pressed the Security Council to unanimously support the follow-up to a landmark summit in Bangui viewed by authorities and regional partners alike as a viable path towards gradual peace and stability.

Briefing the Council for the first time since assuming her position, Valentine Rugwabiza, who is also the Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), said the strategic review meeting, held on 4 June, marked a “critical juncture” in the country’s direction.

She said President Faustin Archange Touadera, along with the foreign ministers of Angola and Rwanda and other international and regional partners, assessed implementation of the Joint Roadmap for Peace in the Central African Republic, adopted by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region in September 2021.

“The Strategic Review Meeting has achieved all the objectives assigned to it,” Ms. Rugwabiza said, adding that marshalling organizations and States in the region, as well as international partners, in the repositioning of Mission forces is among the “strategic axes” which deserve the Council’s attention.

On the security front, she said MINUSCA is planning an operational response to the new posture of armed groups taking advantage of the fuel crisis in the country. She urged the Council to mobilize States to guarantee fuel supply for the Mission so it can continue its operations.

Against that backdrop, Lina Ekmo, President of the Network for Women's Leadership in the Central African Republic, described a culture of criminal violence which has taken hold. “The population is caught between rebellion, the national army, mercenaries and militias that sow terror and death,” she said, citing mass killings that have targeted the Fulani and the Gbaya.

“I beg you not to minimize the risks,” she stressed. She urged the Council to consider the Central African Republic as a country in an emergency, calling on them to challenge the national authorities on their widespread violence and establish a framework for emergency consultations between national actors, with access granted to civil society, especially women.

In the ensuing dialogue, delegates welcomed the political gains made — among them the holding in the strategic review meeting in June and a republican dialogue for national reconciliation in March, the recent adoption of a law abolishing the death penalty, and Government measures to organize local elections in 2023 — while also expressing concern over the violence still gripping the country and calling for continued multidimensional support.

Gabon’s representative, also speaking for Ghana and Kenya, affirmed the need for State authority to be established throughout the country by well-trained and well-equipped Central African Armed Forces. To this end, the arms embargo must be lifted and he called for international support for Government efforts to strengthen its management system for weapons and munitions.

On that point, France’s delegate emphasized that Central African authorities can legally obtain all equipment they request, as the regime is one of control rather than prohibition. He called instead for a ceasefire that is respected by all parties, as well as for a unique disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process conducted transparently with the region and MINUSCA. It is clear that Wagner Group mercenaries are not content to use brutal methods themselves but have also inculcated their Central African partners with them, he added.

Along those lines, the United States representative denounced the 23 violations of MINUSCA’s status-of-forces agreement by the Central African Armed Forces — likely directed by the Wagner Group, whose forces perpetrated 41 cases of human rights abuses during the reporting period. He called on the Russian Federation and the Central African Republic to transparently investigate all allegations and hold accountable the perpetrators of these “heinous acts”.

For its part, the Russian Federation’s delegate welcomed the “relatively stable” security situation, emphasizing that her delegation is working to loosen the arms embargo, up to its full lifting. Weapons are acquired by security forces to fight illegal armed formations, which have a regular supply of arms. “The choice of partner in any particular area — especially when we are talking about the services of private military companies — is the prerogative of national authorities,” she insisted.

Detailing progress, the representative of the Central African Republic said the current priority is achieving stability through the neutralization of armed groups who continue their murderous attacks on peaceful people. He questioned, however, how this will be possible with the counter-productive arms embargo in place.

Nonetheless, he emphasized that the Government is working to address the full lifecycle of weapons and requested the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) to conduct an independent, impartial assessment of the management of weapons and munitions.

Also speaking were representatives of Brazil, China, United Arab Emirates, India, Norway, Ireland, United Kingdom, Mexico and Albania.

The meeting began at 10:08 a.m. and ended at 12:09 p.m.

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