Bangui National Forum

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Closing Ceremony on 11 May 2015 at the Bangui National Forum
Closing ceremony of the Bangui National Forum on 11 May 2015.

The Bangui National Forum was a national reconciliation conference organized by the transition government of the Central African Republic (CAR). It took place in Bangui from May 4 to 11, 2015[1] and was part of the third phase of the Brazzaville process.[2] Following the Brazzaville ceasefire conference of July 2014[3] and the CAR popular consultations[4] during the first quarter of 2015, the forum resulted in the adoption of a Republican Pact for Peace, National Reconciliation and Reconstruction in the CAR[5] and the signature of a Disarmament, Demobilisation, Rehabilitation and Repatriation (DDRR)[6] agreement among 9 of 10 armed groups.[7]

The Forum was presided by Professor Abdoulaye Bathily, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Central Africa. There were over 600 participants representing the government, civil society, political parties, the media, the diaspora and faith-based organisations.[1]

Purpose[edit]

The purpose of the Bangui National Forum[8] was to bring together Central Africans from all regions and backgrounds to find lasting solutions to years of recurrent political instability in the country.

The latest episode of conflict broke out in December 2012 when an armed rebellion was launched by the Séléka Coalition, led by Michel Djotodia, a former defence minister. It resulted in the overthrow of the government of François Bozizé in March 2013. However, the takeover by the Séléka Coalition did not end the violence taking a sectarian angle between the pro-Muslim Séléka Coalition and the predominantly Christian anti-Balaka militias.

Several peace initiatives, driven by regional governments, were prompted by the deteriorating security and human rights situation in the country. This included the Summit of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) leaders which took place in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea on the side lines of the 23rd Ordinary Summit of the African Union in June 2014.[9][10] The ECCAS leaders agreed to establish a three-phase plan to reconcile the country, including a ceasefire conference in Brazzaville in July 2014, popular consultations and the Bangui National Forum.[11]

The initial idea for the Bangui Forum stemmed from a workshop organized by the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD) in June 2014, that had gathered 30 Central African participants from varying backgrounds to analyse and openly discuss the sources of contention which had led to the conflict. This initiative was the first to be held after the 2013 episodes of violence in CAR.[12]

Recommendations[edit]

The recommendations resulting from the popular consultations held early 2015 were compiled into four thematic reports and were put forward for debate at the Forum in four thematic sub-committees (Peace and security, Justice and Reconciliation, Governance and Economic and Social Development) and at plenary sessions.[13]

The deliberations benefited from the technical support of foreign expertise provided by organizations including the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue (HD), the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, ECCAS and the African Union (AU).

Among others, the following recommendations were adopted during the forum:[14][15]

  • the disarmament and reintegration or reinsertion of armed groups,
  • reform of the security sector,
  • the creation of a special tribunal to try persons suspected of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity,
  • creation of a peace, reconciliation and reparation commission,
  • revision of the nationality code,
  • recognition of two Muslim feasts,
  • redeployment of administrative services across the country,
  • investment in infrastructure, education and health,
  • reform of the judiciary and improved transparency in the management of the country's abundant natural resources.[13]
  • return and reintegration of refugees and IDPs

The delegates also agreed on the extension of the mandate of the transitional government to provide adequate time for the planning of fair elections.

Agreements[edit]

The recommendations issuing from the Bangui Forum are contained in a Republican Pact for Peace, National Reconciliation and Reconstruction in the Central African Republic,[16] which was adopted at the end of the Forum.[17][18] The Pact calls for the immediate implementation of the resolutions of the Forum and for the commitment of the candidates in the upcoming presidential elections to uphold them.[15]

To address concerns that the outcomes of the Bangui Forum might not be fully implemented, the President of the Central African Republic, Catherine Samba-Panza announced in her closing address[19] that a monitoring committee would oversee the full implementation.

A disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and repatriation of ex-combatants (DDRR) was also signed at the end of the Forum by nine out of ten armed groups: the Front Populaire pour la Renaissance de la Centrafrique (FRPC), the Rassemblement Patriotique pour le Renouveau de la Centrafrique (RPRC), the Union des Forces Républicaines Fondamentales (UFRF), the Seleka Rénovée, the Mouvement des Libérateurs Centrafricains pour la Justice (MLCJ), the Coordination des ex-combattants Anti-Balaka, The Unité du Peuple Centrafricain (UPC), Révolution et Justice, and Unité des Forces Républicaines. The Front Démocratique pour le Progrès de la Centrafrique (FDPC) did not sign the agreement.

The DDRR agreement outlines that ex-combatants should be relocated to designated camps for identification and awareness sessions. They will be either integrated into the security agencies under the National DDRR Programme; returned to their communities and included in various income-generating programmes funded by MINUSCA and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other international partners; or in the case of foreign fighters, not suspected of committing war crimes, they will be repatriated to their home countries.[6] The agreement was well received by national and international public opinion as a milestone in the search for peace in the country.[20][21][22][23]

A contributing factor to the achievement of the Bangui Forum and of the DDRR agreement was the signing of peace declarations in Nairobi by former presidents Bozizé and Djotodia in April 2015. In a surprise move, both men agreed to recognize the recommendations of the Brazzaville ceasefire conference of July 2014 and to support the Bangui Forum. This enabled representatives of the two main armed groups, the Séléka and Anti-Balaka, to participate at the forum and for security to be respected during the week that it was held.[24]

A declaration by armed groups to stop enrolling children into their ranks and to release those already in their possession was also signed on the margins of the Forum.[25] UNICEF reported the release of 357 children by these groups one week after signature.[26]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Central African Republic peace: The Bangui Forum". Reliefweb. Conciliation Resources. May 2015. Retrieved 2015-06-29.
  2. ^ "Congo: CAR delegation in Brazzaville to prepare Bangui forum". www.panapress.com. 29 January 2015. Retrieved 2015-06-30.
  3. ^ "Central African Republic: CAR Parliament Discusses Brazzaville Ceasefire Deal". allAfrica. allAfrica. 4 August 2014. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  4. ^ "Hear it from the people: What's wrong in the Central African Republic?". IRIN. IRIN. 8 April 2015. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  5. ^ "Ban welcomes Central African Republic peace pact as reflection of people's aspirations". UN News Centre. United Nations. 11 May 2015. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  6. ^ a b Accord sur les principes de désarmement, démobilisation, réintégration et rapatriement entre le gouvernement de transition et les groupes armés (PDF), 10 May 2015, archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-11-17, retrieved 29 June 2015
  7. ^ "Central African Republic: Security Council Welcomes Central African Republic National Forum, Urges Implementation of Peace Pact". allAfrica. allAfrica. 16 May 2015. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  8. ^ "Projet de Termes de Reference Du Forum national de Bangui (avec les amendements du Présidium du Forum en date du 30/04/2015)". MINUSCA – Mission multidimensionnelle intégrée de stabilisation des Nations unies en Centrafrique. 30 April 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-05-19. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  9. ^ Report of the Secretary-General on the activities of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa and on the Lord's Resistance Army-affected areas (PDF) (S/2014/812), United Nations Security Council, 13 November 2014, p. 2, archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-04, retrieved 30 June 2015
  10. ^ "ECCAS leaders meet as AU Summit enters second day". Agencia Angola Press. 27 June 2014. Retrieved 2015-06-30.
  11. ^ Dialogue politique pour la réconciliation en Centrafrique: Phases et chronogrammes du dialogue centrafricain, CEAC, July 2015, pp. 3–4
  12. ^ Letter dated 28 October 2014 from the Panel of Experts on the Central African Republic established pursuant to Security Council resolution 2127 (2013) addressed to the President of the Security Council (PDF) (S/2014/762), United Nations Security Council, 29 October 2014, p. 7, retrieved 3 November 2015
  13. ^ Rapport général d'activité de la Commission Préparatoire du Forum National de Bangui, April 2015, p. 18
  14. ^ Rapport Général du Forum National de Bangui du 04-11 mai 2015. Présidium du Forum National de Bangui. 2015.
  15. ^ a b "Pacte républicain pour la paix, la réconciliation nationale et la reconstruction en République centrafricain" (PDF). Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-11-12. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  16. ^ "Text of Pact" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-11-12. Retrieved 2015-06-29.
  17. ^ "Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the SG on the conclusion of the Bangui National Forum". MINUSCA – United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic. 11 May 2015. Retrieved 2015-06-29.[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ "RCA : L'experte indépendante salue l'adoption du Pacte républicain pour la paix". Reliefweb. UN Human Rights Council. 13 May 2015. Retrieved 2015-06-29.
  19. ^ Samba-Panza, Catherine (11 May 2015). "Discours prononcé à la cérémonie de clôture du Forum national de Bangui, le 11 mai 2015, à l'Hémicycle du Conseil national de Transition. Par Madame Catherine Samba-Panza, Chef de l'Etat de la Transition". www.sangonet.com. Archived from the original on 2015-11-17. Retrieved 2015-06-29.
  20. ^ Sy, Amadou; Copley, Amy (15 May 2015). "Five takeaways from the Bangui Forum for National Reconciliation in the Central African Republic". The Brookings Institution. Retrieved 2015-06-29.
  21. ^ "Situation in the Central African Republic – Completion of the Bangui Forum". US Department of State. 11 May 2015. Retrieved 2015-06-29.
  22. ^ "Security Council welcomes Central African Republic national forum, urges implementation of peace pact". UN News Service Section. 16 May 2015. Retrieved 2015-06-29.
  23. ^ "Central African Republic – Conclusion of the National Bangui Forum (May 12, 2015)". France Diplomatie. 12 May 2015. Retrieved 29 June 2015.
  24. ^ "RCA: les ex-présidents Bozizé et Djotodia s'engagent pour la réconciliation à Nairobi". www.romandie.com. Retrieved 2015-08-15.
  25. ^ "MINUSCA Welcomes the Release of Children Associated with Armed Groups". MINUSCA. 15 May 2015. Retrieved 2015-06-29.[permanent dead link]
  26. ^ "RCA : 300 enfants soldats libérés annonce UNICEF". www.unmultimedia.org. Radio des Nations Unies. 14 May 2015. Retrieved 2015-06-29.