The situation in Central Africa and the activities of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa – Report of the Secretary-General (S / 2021/975) – Cameroon
1. The present report is submitted in accordance with the statement of the President of the Security Council dated 10 August 2018 (S / PRST / 2018/17), in which the Council requested the Secretary-General to keep it informed of the activities of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) every six months. It takes stock of the major political and security trends in Central Africa since the report of December 1, 2020 (S / 2020/1154). The report also takes stock of the situation in the Lake Chad basin region, in accordance with Council resolution 2349 (2017).
II. Main developments in the Central Africa sub-region
A. Developments and trends in politics, peace and security
2. The period under review was marked by efforts to advance the political transition in Chad and an inclusive national dialogue in the Central African Republic, the presidential election in Sao Tome and Principe and the persistence of violence in Cameroon and in the Lake Chad. The sub-region continued its efforts to deal with the multifaceted impact of the coronavirus disease pandemic (COVID-19), in particular by advancing vaccination campaigns. The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) continued its institutional reform and the implementation of its strategic priorities for the period 2021-2025, particularly in the area of peace and security.
Political developments and trends
3. Several initiatives have been taken to advance regional integration. On July 30, the President of Congo, Denis Sassou Nguesso, in his capacity as President of ECCAS, chaired the Nineteenth Conference of Heads of State and Government of ECCAS, which debated – in a virtual format – political and security issues in the sub-region and adopted decisions to advance the regional integration process. On September 16, the President of Angola, João Lourenço, in his capacity as President of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, convened the third mini-summit of the International Conference on the situation in the Central African Republic. In the presence, among others, of the heads of state of the Central African Republic, Chad and the Congo, the summit adopted a common roadmap with a view to advancing the peace process in the country in accordance with the Political Agreement for Central African Republic Peace and Reconciliation 2019 and urged the government to declare a ceasefire. On October 15, the President of the Central African Republic, Faustin Archange Touadéra, declared an immediate and unilateral ceasefire throughout the country, in accordance with the common road map of the International Conference.
4. In Angola, the Constitutional Reform Law was adopted by the National Assembly on 22 June. On September 10, the Angolan president sent a draft electoral reform to the National Assembly for a second reading, after its adoption by majority in parliament, citing the need to ensure “healthy competition, fairness and truth. electoral ”. On September 11, the opposition party União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola staged a large-scale demonstration, with a large presence of young people, to demand “free, fair and transparent elections”. On November 17, the electoral reform project was adopted at second reading by the National Assembly, with the opposition voting against. The socio-economic situation of the country has provoked strikes in various sectors. Some journalists have expressed concern that they will be targeted for criticizing the authorities, while others have been verbally assaulted by opposition supporters on the sidelines of the protests. Opposition parties have expressed concern over unequal access to resources and state media ahead of general elections scheduled for August 2022. Former president José Eduardo Dos Santos returned to Angola on September 14 after two years of absence. On November 5, Lourenço applied for a second term for the presidency of the ruling Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola, which is due to elect a new president at its congress from December 9 to 11, 2021.
5. In Cameroon, despite the efforts of national and international actors, the dialogue between the Government and armed groups in the North-West and South-West regions has not yet gained momentum. In line with the recommendations of the 2019 Grand National Dialogue, progress on decentralization efforts continued, but appeared to have limited impact on the ground as the violence persisted. A national convention of women for peace, the first of its kind to be held in Cameroon, was held in Yaoundé from July 29 to 31. The participants expressed their support for the peace efforts in the country. From September 21 to 24 and October 5 to 9, Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute visited the North West and South West Regions to assess the implementation of the recommendations of the Grand National Dialogue. He noted the need to intensify communication efforts on these recommendations.
6. In Chad, the transitional authorities have made progress towards key stages of the transition despite the difficult security and economic context. On July 29, the Transitional Government adopted a roadmap which envisages, among other things, an inclusive national dialogue at the end of 2021 leading to the adoption of a new constitution and, subsequently, to the holding of elections in September. 2022. On August 13, the transitional government Prime Minister Albert Pahimi Padacké appointed the 69 members of the committee responsible for organizing the inclusive dialogue, including 15 women. Preparations for the inclusive national dialogue, including with the participation of armed groups, are underway. In a speech to the nation on August 10, the President of the Transitional Military Council, General Mahamat Idriss Déby, called on the armed opposition to join the inclusive national dialogue and, on August 17, appointed the former President, Goukouni Weddeye, chairing the special technical committee on their participation. On September 24, the head of the Transitional Military Council appointed the 93 members of the National Transitional Council, 30% of whom are women, comprising members of the outgoing Legislative Assembly, including the ex-opposition, and groups armed forces, as well as representatives of civil society and youth. On October 4, the inclusive national dialogue organizing committee presented the dialogue roadmap to international partners. Wakit Tama, an influential opposition platform, continued to reject the transition process as non-transparent and non-inclusive, organizing several rallies to demand a review of the transition charter and a truly inclusive dialogue.
7. The transitional authorities have taken certain measures to open up political space in the context of the transition. On July 13, the transitional authorities authorized the first opposition demonstration since the late President Idriss Déby Itno came to power in 1990. Between July and October, civil society and opposition groups critical of the authorities of transition organized several peaceful and authorized demonstrations in N ‘Djamena calling for an inclusive dialogue; however, some unauthorized demonstrations by Wakit Tama continued to be suppressed. At the first Symposium of Chadian Women for Security and Lasting Peace, held in N’Djamena on June 27, participants called for increased participation of women in conflict resolution and inclusive national dialogue.
8. On July 28, the High Representative of the African Union and Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Chad, Basile Ikouébé, officially took office. On August 3, the African Union Peace and Security Council issued a statement welcoming the progress made in the transition; commended the Chadian authorities for creating an enabling environment; and encouraged them to speed up the implementation of the remaining transition tasks and to re-commit to completing the transition within the stipulated 18-month deadline. Chad’s main regional and international partners have formed the International Group of Partners for Transition Support in Chad, aimed at mobilizing regional and international support for the transition under the leadership of the African Union. Six meetings of the International Group have taken place to date.
9. In the Congo, in a context of persistent economic difficulties aggravated by COVID-19, the authorities reaffirmed their commitment to sustainable debt management and good governance. On June 21, the Prime Minister presented the Government’s action plan for the period 2021-2026 to the National Assembly. Opposition parties continued to call for an inclusive dialogue to address the country’s challenges.
10. In Equatorial Guinea, the situation continued to be marked by the impact of COVID-19, the measures taken by the authorities to promote macroeconomic stability and the preparation for the elections. On July 28, France’s highest court, the Court of Cassation, upheld the conviction of Vice-President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue for embezzlement and corruption. On July 22, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland announced sanctions against Mr. Obiang Mangue for embezzlement of public funds. On July 3, a military court sentenced two members of the armed forces to 30 and 50 years in prison, respectively, for negligence in connection with the series of explosions at the Bata military barracks on March 7, 2021, which left 107 people dead. . and 700 injured. Some political campaigns have started in view of the legislative elections, scheduled for 2022.
11. In Gabon, the authorities have focused on governance and economic recovery, given the economic and health crises facing the country. On September 13, the Council of Ministers adopted an ordinance requiring presidential candidates to reside in the country for an uninterrupted period of at least six months each year for the two years preceding the election. The opposition criticized the initiative as seeking to exclude opposition candidates from participating in the 2023 elections. Several opposition leaders and allies of former presidential candidate Jean Ping have defected from his movement and have returned to the ruling Gabonese Democratic Party.
12. In Sao Tome and Principe, the first round of the presidential election took place on July 18. It was contested by 19 candidates, including three women. Outgoing president Evaristo Carvalho was not seeking re-election. Carlos Vila Nova, candidate supported by the party of the outgoing president, Acção Democrática Independente, and Guilherme Posser da Costa, supported by the Movimento de Libertação de São Tomé e Príncipe – Partido Social Democrata which dominates the government, qualified for the second tower. The second round, initially scheduled for August 8, took place on September 5 due to a disagreement within the Constitutional Court on the advisability of carrying out a recount. The observation missions of the African Union and ECCAS congratulated the country for peaceful and transparent elections, while calling for increased participation of women in the electoral process. On September 14, the Constitutional Court declared Mr. Vila Nova the winner, with 57.6% of the vote. He was sworn in on October 2. ECCAS deployed an electoral assistance mission and appointed a special envoy to Sao Tome and Principe for the presidential election.