Report of the Security Council Mission to Africa (9-13 March 2015) [fr]
Briefing on the Security Council mission to Africa (9 to 13 March 2015) - Presentation by Mr. François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 18 March 2015
First, on the context: from 9 to 13 March, the Security Council visited Africa. We stopped in the Central African Republic; Addis Ababa, with the African Union; and Burundi. I had the pleasure of co-leading this visit with the Angolan Ambassador, Mr. Ismael Gaspar Martins, for the entire mission, and with the United States Ambassador, Ms. Samantha Power, for the Burundi segment.
Regarding the Central African Republic, I should like to highlight the following points.
This was the first visit of the Security Council to the Central African Republic. We spent about two very busy days on the ground. We met with many stakeholders, including the transition authorities. We met with the President and most of her Government, the National Transitional Council and the National Electoral Authority — so the transition authorities; representatives of Central African Republic civil society, including organizations representing women, youth and religious authorities; and the international forces deployed in Central African Republic, namely, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), Sangaris and the European Union military operation in the Central African Republic (EUFOR).
We also went to Bria and held talks with the local authorities, that is, prefects, magistrates, the gendarmerie and the police, representatives of civil society, religious leaders and ex-Séléka representatives. We also visited the Cambodian contingent of MINUSCA.
During this visit, the Security Council wanted first and foremost to get an idea of the situation in the Central African Republic, nearly a year after the adoption of resolution 2149 (2014). We found that the situation that remains tenuous and precarious on the humanitarian and security fronts, but we also saw encouraging signs, such as stabilization, thanks to the deployment of MINUSCA and the excellent work done by EUFOR and Sangaris; and a deep and mostly shared desire to stop the conflict; refugees and displaced persons who have begun returning to their homes, even if that is not the case across the board. The Security Council also noted a trend among political leaders, who hope to successfully complete the transition process.
What we saw and heard will be invaluable for our forthcoming initiatives on the Central African Republic, a review of the troop ceiling for MINUSCA and the renewal of the mandate by the end of April.
Of course, we also used this visit to convey at every stage a message from the Security Council. We encouraged the authorities of the Central African Republic to spare no effort in conducting the transition, including local consultations, which have almost concluded; the Bangui Forum, which is key; and then the elections, with the goal of meeting the set deadlines. We noted the progressive re-establishment of State authority across the territory, with the deployment of administrative teams, and stressed the need to resolutely continue along this path. We encouraged all of our interlocutors to work towards reconciliation and to lay down their weapons.
Finally, I would underscore that the impression we got from this trip was one of a fragile situation, but also of a positive trend that must be encouraged and supported. There are significant challenges are great, but international commitment must remain commensurate. This means in particular that financing is necessary for the immediate priority of elections, for humanitarian appeals, for the reform and reconstruction programmes that are to follow and that will begin swiftly with the deployment of the European Union Military Advisory Mission in the Central African Republic Europeanin in the armed forces sector. We encourage the United Nations as a whole to contribute to this collective effort.
[ The Permanent Representative of Angola briefed the Council for the Addis Ababa segment ]
I shall now take the floor, once again in my capacity as representative of France, to speak about the last leg of our trip, which was held in Burundi at a critical moment in the history of that country.
Although our time there was brief, we had very fruitful exchanges with President Pierre Nkurunziza, who met with us for over an hour; the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and of the Interior; representatives of civil society, including organizations representing women and youth, and the media; religious authorities; and a very broad spectrum of political parties reprsenting the majority and the opposition alike. We also talked with the United Nations Electoral Observation Mission in Burundi (MENUB) and its Head, Mr. Cassam Uteem, the Resident Coordinator and the country team — in other words, all United Nations agencies on the ground.
The Security Council noted that Burundi has made significant progress in overcoming the challenges inherited from the civil war, but that peace remains fragile. Much of our dialogue naturally focused on the issue of the elections to be held in a few weeks. In that regard, the Security Council came with simple messages. The first was that the organization of credible, free and fair elections in 2015 would be crucial to the future of Burundi, and that it was imperative that the electoral process be peaceful, inclusive, fair and transparent.
The second message was that full respect had to be shown for the foundational texts that Burundi has adopted, which have led to the evident stabilization of Burundi. These include the Arusha Accords, which must be honoured in letter and in spirit as the linchpin of stability in the country and remain its lodestar, and of course the Constitution, as well as the road map for elections and the declaration recently signed by the political parties, pledging to conduct the elections peacefully.
Our third message was that there was an absolute need to maintain the cohesion and unity of Burundian society. Any debate that divides Burundi society is dangerous, especially at this sensitive moment, and we have called on all political stakeholders there to make the country’s best interests, peacebuilding, the search for consensus and peace their highest priorities and motivation. These were the messages that the Secretary-General himself recalled yesterday when he expressed his concern about the attempted assassination of Mrs. Haberisoni, the wife of opposition leader Agathon Rwasa. The dangers of escalation are real as elections approach, and we therefore call again on the stakeholders not to resort to violence and to engage fully in a peaceful process.
Our discussions also allowed us to address issues relating to human rights — in particular to express our concerns with regard to the reduction of political space, restrictions on freedom of assembly and expression, and the constraints imposed on the media — and to the independence of the judiciary. The concerns expressed by the political parties and civil society organizations were relayed to the authorities with whom we met.
In the three countries that the Security Council visited, we enjoyed the best possible reception and were able to carry out comprehensive and in-depth interviews and travels that were extremely enlightening and useful. On behalf of all my Security Council colleagues, I thank the authorities of the Central African Republic, Ethiopia and Burundi; the African Union; the United Nations field missions — the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic and MENUB; and all services and departments of the Secretariat for having assured the full success of our trip with their professionalism and rigour.