Conclusions of the 6th Meeting of the International Contact Group on the CAR

By African Union Commission (AUC)
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ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, November 14, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- 1. The International Contact Group on the Central African Republic (ICG-RCA) held its 6th meeting in Bangui, on 11 November 2014, under the co-chairmanship of Mr. Basile Ikouebe, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Republic of Congo, and Ambassador Smail Chergui, Commissioner for Peace and Security of the African Union (AU). The list of the countries and organizations that participated in the meeting is indicated below[1].

[1] Algeria, Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, China, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, France, Georgia, Germany, Holy See, Japan, Luxemburg, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, Sudan, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States of America, AU, ECCAS, ICRC, IMF, OCHA, OIC, OIF, UNAIDS, UNDP, UNHCR, United Nations, USAID, and World Bank

2. The opening ceremony was marked by the statements made by the Head of State of the Transition, Catherine Samba-Panza; the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security; the Special Representative of the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General and Head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the CAR (MINUSCA); the Representative of the Secretary-General of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS); the Minister of Foreign Affairs and African Integration of the Republic of Chad, representing the current Chairman of ECCAS; and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Republic of Congo.

3. Participants noted that the 6th meeting of the ICG-CAR was following on from the high-level meeting on the CAR held under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General in New York, on 26 September 2014, and would be followed, on 24 and 25 November 2014, in N'Djamena, by the ECCAS 16th Ordinary Summit, which will review the situation in the CAR. They took the opportunity of their meeting to reiterate their gratitude to all the leaders of the region, particularly President Idriss Deby Itno of the Republic of Chad, Chairman of the ECCAS, and Denis Sassou-Nguesso of the Republic of Congo, Mediator in the CAR crisis, for their continued commitment. They urged the CAR stakeholders to take full advantage of this international mobilization to accelerate the process of ending the crisis facing their country.

4. Participants discussed the developments in the CAR since the 5th meeting of the ICG-CAR held in Addis Ababa, on 7 July 2014, on the basis of the statements made by the CAR Prime Minister and other members of his delegation, the presentations by the AU, UN and ECCAS Special Representatives in the CAR, the representative of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), on behalf of the Coordination Group for the Preparation and Follow-up of the ICG-CAR meetings (G8-CAR), as well as the interventions of other international actors involved in the management of the CAR crisis.

I. On security and justice

5. Participants noted that the 6th meeting of the ICG-CAR took place a little less than two months following the successful transfer of authority from the African-led International Support Mission in the CAR (MISCA) to MINUSCA. They commended MISCA for the work done, with the support of the Sangaris and EUFOR RCA Operations, which made it possible to complete the initial stabilization phase of the situation in the CAR. They expressed appreciation to the AU and the UN for having ensured a smooth transition. Participants expressed their support for MINUSCA in the implementation of its mandate, in accordance with Security Council resolution 2149 (2014). They encouraged the UN to continue and to accelerate the ongoing efforts to reach full operational capability for the Mission. They called for the mobilization of all the necessary support to MINUSCA to enable it effectively discharge its mandate over the entire national territory.

6. Participants noted that, despite improvements, the security situation remains precarious, as evidenced by the incidents that took place in Bangui in October 2014. They strongly condemned the acts of violence that were committed and the attacks against MINUSCA, encouraging the Mission to take, within its mandate, all necessary measures to ensure the effective protection of the civilian population and the restoration of lasting security. They warned spoilers that they would be held accountable for their acts, in accordance with the sanctions regime provided for in Security Council resolutions 2127 (2013), 2134 (2014) and 2149 (2014) and the relevant communiqués of the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC). They urged the CAR authorities to prosecute those responsible for these criminal acts in the relevant national and international courts.

7. Participants reminded the signatories to the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities of 23 July 2014 of the importance of implementing the provisions contained therein, in order to end the crisis in the CAR in a consensual manner. In particular, they called for the implementation of articles 4 and 8 of the Agreement, including the establishment of the monitoring mechanism provided for in the Brazzaville Conclusions and the cantonment of all ex-combatants and armed elements of the signatory groups. To this end, they appealed to the bilateral and multilateral partners to contribute expeditiously to the operationalization of the monitoring mechanism. They requested the International Mediation to facilitate the early conclusion of an agreement on the disarmament of the armed groups.

8. Participants expressed satisfaction at the efforts of the transitional authorities, with the support of the international community, to ensure the resumption of the activities of the judicial system, in order to combat impunity. To this end, and in accordance with resolution 2149 (2014), they welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Temporary Emergency Measures in August 2014, which provides, in particular, for the establishment of a Special Criminal Court in charge of investigating and prosecuting the serious crimes committed in the CAR, and called for the implementation of this MoU without delay.

9. Participants recalled that the stabilization of the security situation is first and foremost the responsibility of the CAR stakeholders. In this regard, they reiterated their appeal to all parties, particularity the leaders of the ex-Seleka and anti-Balaka groups, as well as all other armed groups signatory to the Brazzaville Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities, to embark upon the path of dialogue as the only viable means towards achieving lasting reconciliation and peace, and an essential condition for the successful implementation of MINUSCA's mandate, with the support of the international forces. They welcomed the consultations held by the Government, supported by the G8-CAR, with the different components of the ex-Seleka, and requested that similar consultations be undertaken with the anti-Balaka.

10. Participants stressed the important role of the CAR internal security forces (police and gendarmerie) in the restoration of security, in coordination with MINUSCA. They called for the enhancement of their capacity and their professionalization as soon as possible. They once again requested the CAR authorities to initiate, without delay, the reform process of the CAR Armed Forces (FACA), in order to put in place a professional, representative and balanced army, including the adoption of measures to absorb elements of the armed groups meeting rigorous selection criteria, as well as those concerning the retraining of part of the FACA. To this end, participants appealed to the international community to extend a coordinated and concerted support for the gradual reorganization of the FACA, including through training and advice, along the lines of the support being implemented by the European Union (EU) in Mali and Somalia – EU/Training Mission.

II. On humanitarian aspects

11. Participants expressed their concern about the precarious humanitarian situation in the CAR and condemned unequivocally the serious violations of International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law, especially the use of civilians, women and children as human shields by political/military groups, as well as the attacks and looting targeting humanitarian personnel and their property.

12. Participants expressed concern about the impact of insecurity on humanitarian access to vulnerable populations. They appealed to the transitional authorities and the international forces to promote the respect of the humanitarian space in the CAR. They also appealed to the armed groups to cease acts of violence against humanitarian actors and civilians, and to refrain from impeding access to civilian populations by humanitarian workers, in accordance with international humanitarian law.

13. Participants noted with satisfaction the efforts made by the humanitarian actors, and reiterated their appreciation to the neighboring countries, which are still hosting approximately 420,000 CAR refugees. They made an urgent appeal to the international community to mobilize additional resources, noting in this regard that a total amount of $229 million is required to cover the needs identified within the framework of the Strategic Response Plan 2014, to alleviate the humanitarian crisis.

14. Participants urged the transitional authorities to establish favorable conditions for the return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees, build the capacity of the basic social services, and implement specific projects for women and children. In this context, they requested that more sustained efforts be made by all concerned actors, including the transitional Government and the humanitarian agencies, to establish the conditions for the dismantling of the IDP camp located presently at the Bangui International Airport and find a lasting solution for the concerned populations. They expressed the wish that this objective be attained before the next meeting of the ICG-CAR. The participants also requested that urgent measures be taken to open up the PK5 area in Bangui and to secure it.

III. On political issues and the electoral process

15. Participants welcomed the convening, from 21 to 23 July 2014, of the Brazzaville Forum. They reiterated their appreciation to the International Mediation led by President Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of the Congo and comprising Mr. Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga, on behalf of the AU, and Abdoulaye Bathily, on behalf of the United Nations, as well as ECCAS as rapporteur, and encouraged it to continue its efforts. They stressed the need for renewed efforts by the CAR stakeholders to ensure an effective follow-up of the Conclusions of Brazzaville Forum.

16. Participants took note of the formation of the transitional Government on 22 August 2014. They urged all the components of the CAR nation to act in the supreme interest of their country by ensuring cohesion between the transitional institutions, and to work steadfastly towards the implementation of the transitional Roadmap. Within this framework, they welcomed the commitment of the transitional authorities to orient the action of the state towards the restoration of security as a prerequisite for the success of the inclusive dialogue and reconciliation process, as well as the smooth holding of the elections.

17. Participants took note of the proposal made to the CAR political stakeholders to combine phases 2 and 3 of the political process. In conformity with the Conclusions of the 5th meeting of the ICG-CAR, they requested the transitional Government to organize the Bangui Forum by no later than January 2015. This Forum should focus on the following issues: dialogue, truth, justice, fight against impunity and national reconciliation; security aspects, including DDR and SSR, as well as the use of child soldiers; general principles that would guide the preparation of the new Constitution and electoral issues; and governance and assistance to affected populations.

18. In order to guarantee the convening of the Bangui Forum as soon as possible, Participants requested the establishment by the transitional Government, in close consultation with the International Mediation and with the support of the G8-CAR, of a Preparatory Committee to prepare the said Forum, including aspects related to participation, which should be as inclusive as possible. They welcomed the commitment of the transitional Government to organizing dialogue at the level of the prefectures through the Resident Ministers, especially on the occasion of the celebration of the national Independence Day on 1 December 2014. They requested the members of the ICG-CAR to contribute to the financing of the Bangui Forum and to avail the necessary expertise.

19. Participants took note of the fact that the election date of February 2015 was no longer technically feasible. Thus, and in conformity with Article 102 of the Transitional Constitutional Charter, they requested the International Mediator in the CAR crisis, President Denis Sassou Nguesso, to extend the transition by six months (up to August 2015).

20. Participants requested the transitional authorities, as well as the National Elections Authority (ANE), urgently to take the necessary political, legal, financial and logistical steps required to speed up the electoral process and facilitate the organization, by August 2015 at the latest, of free, fair and credible elections, which will mark the end of the transition. They stressed that the implementation of these steps would greatly facilitate the mobilization of the necessary financial and logistical support, noting with satisfaction in this regard the Government's contribution of one billion CFA francs. They requested that the issue of voting by IDPs and refugees, including their registration in the voter's list, be a priority. They recalled the imperative for respecting the clause relating to the ineligibility of all the transitional authorities, as stipulated in the Transitional Constitutional Charter and in conformity with the relevant AU instruments. In this regard, they welcomed the reaffirmation by the Head of State of the Transition of her commitment to respecting the ineligibility clause, and look forward to all the concerned CAR stakeholders making a similar commitment. They strongly emphasized that the international community would neither support the holding of elections in violation of this clause, nor would it recognize its results.

21. Participants noted with satisfaction the efforts made by the Government regarding the deployment of the decentralized and territorial administration and the strengthening of the central administration, for the purpose of supporting the organization of the elections. They encouraged the Government to continue and enhance these efforts.

22. Participants recognized the crucial importance of the process to elaborate the new Constitution, which should seal the desire of the different components of the CAR people to live together and the rebirth of the CAR nation. In this context, they stressed the need for an inclusive participation of all components and active forces of the nation. Consequently, they urged all the CAR partners to provide the necessary support for the successful conclusion of this process.

IV. On the economic and financial situation

23. Participants expressed concern about the precarious economic and financial situation in the CAR and recalled the inseparable link between political stability and security, on the one hand, and the reactivation of the key sectors of the economy, on the other. They encouraged the transitional authorities to continue their efforts to mobilize domestic resources, particularly customs revenues, in full respect of financial best practice, in order to meet the expenses related to the functioning of the State.

24. Participants stressed that the restoration of lasting peace and stability in the CAR is contingent upon economic recovery, with concrete prospects for youth employment. In this context, they welcomed the pursuit, particularly in Bangui, of employment generating projects and their extension to other locations, inside the country. They also called for the multiplication of projects in the countryside, notably in the East and North East regions, which have an acute need of development.

25. Participants called upon the transitional authorities to further promote financial and economic governance, which is key to the restoration of confidence by the economic actors, the mobilization of new private investment, economic recovery, as well as the mobilization of the necessary international financial assistance. To this end, they requested the transitional authorities to implement the reforms related to economic and financial governance, including those aimed at the operationalization of the National Committee for the Strategic Coordination of Aid, the reestablishment of the Permanent Consultation Framework (CPC) between the public and private sectors, as well as the implementation of emergency and lasting recovery programmes.

26. Participants noted with satisfaction the external budget support provided to the CAR in 2014. They encouraged the friends and partners of the CAR, as well as the regional and international financial institutions, to pursue their support for the functioning and stability of the CAR State, in particular by ensuring that the 2015 financial needs are covered.

V. On the follow-up to the ICG-CAR meeting

27. Participants requested the International Mediation, with the support of the G8-CAR, to ensure the follow-up of the relevant provisions of the present Conclusions, particularly with regard to the conclusion of the process launched in Brazzaville, with the organization of the Bangui Forum, the elaboration of the new Constitution and the organization of the elections.

28. Participants requested the G8-CAR to prepare, within one week, a matrix on the implementation of the present Conclusions, for circulation to all the members of the ICG-CAR, as well as to submit monthly information briefs taking stock of the implementation of the agreed decisions.

VI. Thanks and next meeting

29. Participants thanked the CAR authorities for facilitating the smooth convening of the 6th meeting of the ICG-CAR and for the welcome accorded to them. They expressed their appreciation to the G8-CAR for the sound preparation of the meeting.

30. Participants agreed to convene their next meeting in Brazzaville, in February 2015, at a date to be fixed after consultations.