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1.    The International Contact Group on the Central African Republic (ICG-CAR) held its 3rd meeting in Bangui, on 8 November 2013. The opening ceremony of the meeting was marked by statements made by President Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of the Congo, Chairman of the Follow-up Committee of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) on the situation in the CAR, and by Mr. Michel Djotodia, Head of State of the Transition in the CAR, as well as by Mr. Moussa Mahamat Faki, Minister of Foreign Affairs and African Integration of the Republic of Chad, on behalf of the current Chairman of ECCAS, Ambassador Smail Chergui, Commissioner for Peace and Security of the African Union (AU), and Mr. Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) for Political Affairs.

2.    The meeting was attended by the CAR, whose delegation was led by the Prime Minister, Head of the transitional Government of National Unity, Advocate Nicolas Tiangaye, and comprised several members of the Government, as well as by Ministers and other senior officials of the countries of the region. The bilateral and multilateral partners also participated in the meeting. The list of countries and institutions represented at the meeting is indicated below . The deliberations were presided over by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of the Republic of the Congo, Mr. Basile Ikouebe, and by the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Smail Chergui, in their capacity as co-chairmen of the ICG-CAR, in the presence of the ECCAS Secretary-General, Mr. Ahmad ALLAM-MI.

3.    The meeting provided an opportunity to consider thoroughly the political, security and humanitarian situation in the CAR, as well as the priority actions to be taken by the Government of the Transition, as contained in the Roadmap of the Transition. It also afforded an opportunity to exchange views on the regional, continental and international efforts aimed at supporting the stabilization process in the CAR and the restoration of constitutional order.

4.    Participants expressed their deep concern over the security situation prevailing in the CAR, marked by the total collapse of public law and order, the persistence of abuse by elements of ex-SELEKA, leading to the emergence of more or less structured self-defense groups and other armed groups, and the absence of the rule of law. In this regard, they pointed out the persistence of widespread acts of violence perpetrated by armed elements, including extra judiciary executions, forced disappearance, arbitrary arrests and detention, acts of torture and sexual violence, as well as the recruitment and use of child soldiers. They also pointed out with concern the recrudescence of inter-community violence, which often takes a religious character. Participants expressed concern about the disastrous humanitarian consequences caused by the persisting insecurity in the CAR, including forced displacement, malnutrition and high level of infant mortality and attacks against humanitarian workers.

5.    Participants stressed the dangers that the present situation pose for the civilian population and the very existence of the Central African State, as well as for regional security and stability. Against that backdrop, they expressed their determination to work together to address the challenges at hand, and called upon other bilateral and multilateral partners to join in this collective effort.

6.    Participants particularly welcomed the various initiatives taken by the international community to facilitate a coordinated international response to the challenges facing the CAR. In this regard, they noted with satisfaction the communiqué adopted by the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC), at its 385th meeting, held in Addis Ababa, on 19 July 2013, authorizing the deployment of the African-led International Support Mission in the CAR (AFISM-CAR). They also noted with satisfaction the adoption by the UN Security Council, on 10 October 2013, of resolution 2121 (2013) on the CAR, providing, among others, for the enhancement of the mandate of the UN Integrated Office for Peacebuilding in the CAR (BINUCA). Finally, they welcomed the outcomes of the 5th Extraordinary Session of the ECCAS Heads of State and Government, held in N'Djamena, on 21 October 2013, on the political, security and humanitarian situation in the CAR, as articulated in the final communiqué adopted on that occasion, and stressed that the latter, as well as the Libreville Agreement of 11 January 2013 and the N'Djamena Declaration of 18 April 2013, constitute the basis for the political resolution of the serious crisis facing the CAR.

7.    Participants agreed that addressing effectively the challenges facing the CAR requires commitments from both the CAR authorities and the international community. They stressed the importance of integrating women in the transitional process and ensuring their involvement in the processes relating to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR), as well as to security sector reform (SSR).

8.    Having considered the different aspects of the situation in the CAR, Participants agreed on the following:

(i)    Management of the Transition

9.    Participants recalled that the transitional period in the CAR officially started on 18 August 2013, with the swearing-in of the Head of State of the Transition in front of the Constitutional Court, and its duration was fixed for 18 months, in conformity with the provisions of article 102 of the Constitutional Charter of the Transition and the N'Djamena Declaration of 18 April 2013. On the basis of the foregoing, Participants welcomed the adoption of the Roadmap for the Transition, as provided for in article 43 of the Constitutional Charter of the Transition, defining the action that the authorities of the Transition intend to take in the priority sector of activities, took note with satisfaction the commitment of the said authorities to:

a)    work together, as well as with the political parties and civil society, in an inclusive manner and in good faith, to carry out successfully the transition process, through the adoption of a new Constitution and an electoral code, and through the establishment, as soon as possible, of the National Authority for Elections and the High Council for Communication and their functioning in all independence, and the reestablishment of the civil status registry, in order to enable the organization of free, fair and credible presidential and legislative elections, by February 2015 at the latest;

b)    comply with article 106 of the Constitutional Charter of the Transition, which stipulates that the Head of State, the Prime Minister and the members of the Government of the Transition and the Bureau of the National Transitional Council are not eligible for the presidential and legislative elections at the end of the 18-month transitional period. In this regard, Participants recalled the relevant provisions of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, which stipulate that the perpetrators of an unconstitutional change of Government are not eligible for elections aimed at restoring legality;

c)    establish conditions for the resumption of democratic debate and to organize the presidential and legislative elections in accordance with the relevant provisions of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance; and

d)    encourage effectively the ongoing initiatives in the area of national reconciliation. Participants hailed the signing, in Bangui, on 7 November 2013, by the transitional authorities, and under the aegis of the Sant’Egidio, of the Republican Pact. They stressed that the Pact constitute an initial necessary step in this direction, and requested the CAR stakeholders to ensure its follow-up and assessment throughout the transition period.

10.    Considering the above commitments, Participants expressed their determination to support the action of the Government of the Transition, under the leadership of the Prime Minister, to implement the Roadmap of the Transition, in conformity with the principles stipulated in the Constitutional Charter of the Transition, the Libreville Agreement of 11 January 2013 and the N'Djamena Declaration of 18 April 2013. More specifically, Participants pledged to do their utmost to facilitate the mobilization of the necessary technical and financial support, to ensure the completion of the Transition and the organization of elections.

11.    Participants urged the AU PSC and the UN Security Council to continue to closely monitor the management of the Transition and, if necessary, impose sanctions against those who impede the implementation of the commitments made by the authorities of the Transition, in conformity with the relevant decisions of the PSC and resolution 2121 (2013).

(ii)    Redeployment of the civilian administration and restoration of security and public law and order

12.    Participants welcomed the clearly expressed will of the authorities of the Transition to speed up the redeployment of the civilian administration, so as to enable the functioning of State services. More specifically, they noted the determination of the authorities of the Transition to:

a)    initiate immediately the redeployment of the sub-prefects, following the deployment of the prefects;

b)    initiate the rehabilitation of the judiciary;

c)    facilitate the return and resettlement of refugees and internally displaced persons; and

d)    ensure full control, by the State, of its tax and customs revenues, as well as of all types of royalties (mining, forestry, oil, etc.).

13.    Participants expressed their support for the implementation of these measures. They welcomed the commitment of the authorities of the Transition to implement the said measures in transparency.

14.    Participants also noted the affirmation by the authorities of the Transition of their responsibility to ensure the observance of human rights, International Humanitarian Law and the protection of the civilian population. In this context, they noted the willingness of the authorities of the Transition to:

a)    take the necessary measures to control armed elements;

b)    fight against impunity, by documenting violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, as well as by referring, without delay, the culprits of crimes and offences of all type  to justice;

c)    initiate the rehabilitation of the regular forces and the redeployment inside the country of an elementary mechanism in order to improve security on the ground, within the framework of the Stabilization Strategy of the CAR, as validated by the 5th Extraordinary Summit of ECCAS, and in liaison with AFISM-CAR;

d)    cooperate fully with the ECCAS Peacebuilding Mission in the CAR (MICOPAX), and with AFISM-CAR, following the transfer of authority between the two Missions, on 19 December 2013, including initiatives leading, in the short term, to the removal of foreign elements from the CAR, as stated in the final communiqué of the 5th Extraordinary Summit of ECCAS, as well as, at the latest, as from January 2014, the voluntary or forced disarmament of all the elements of the armed groups;

e)    launch, in due course and on the basis of the lessons learnt, a new disarmament, demobilization and reintegration and repatriation (DDRR) programme, which takes into account the needs of the local communities concerned. This programme should be part of a global approach to security sector reform and build on the above-mentioned Stabilization Strategy of the CAR. Participants recalled the coordinating role of BINUCA, as provided for in resolution 2121 (2013); and

f)    ensure that the Central African defense and security forces are professional, balanced and selected on the basis of their competence and strict criteria, including in terms of representativeness of the Central African nation, taking into account the most urgent needs of the country and its financial capacity.

15.    Participants expressed their support to the measures envisaged by the authorities of the Transition. They requested partners in a position to do so to contribute experts and the required financial support to facilitate the implementation of the said measures.

16.    Participants reiterated their appreciation to MICOPAX for the work carried out on the ground, in spite of the logistical and other constraints facing the Mission. They noted with satisfaction the decision of the 5th ECCAS Extraordinary Summit, requesting the Member States of this organization to generate additional military and police personnel to arrive at the authorized strength of AFISM-CAR. They also welcomed the consultations between the AU and ECCAS on the transformation of MICOPAX into AFISM-CAR and the commitment of the two organizations to ensure the transfer of authority on 19 December 2013.

17.    Stressing the urgent need for the speedy and effective operationalization of AFISM-CAR, in order to contribute to the establishment of conditions conducive to the emergence of a stable and democratic State, exercising its authority over its entire national territory and assuming its responsibility to protect civilians, Participants:

a)    urged the UN to provide the necessary support to the AFISM-CAR, stressing, in this regard, that they were looking forward to the recommendations of the technical assessment mission dispatched by the UN to the CAR from 27 October to 8 November 2013. They stressed that the successful implementation of the mandate of AFISM-CAR would make it possible to establish the necessary conditions for the possible deployment of a UN peacekeeping operation, which would support the long-term stabilization and reconstruction of the CAR;

b)    welcomed the commitment of the European Union (EU) to contribute financially to the deployment of AFISM-CAR within the framework of the African Peace Facility. In this regard, they were informed about the ongoing efforts by the AU, in consultation with the concerned international partners, to finalize, as soon as possible, the budget of AFISM-CAR, so as to pave the way for the conclusion of a Contribution Agreement;

c)    welcomed the commitment of the United States of America to support the deployment and sustenance of AFISM-CAR;

d)    appealed to other international partners to provide the necessary support to AFISM-CAR;

e)    requested the AU and the CAR to conclude quickly the Status of Mission Agreement, as well as the AU and the troop and police contributing countries to conclude the Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) that would govern the contribution of personnel and resources; and

f)    requested BINUCA to set up appropriate cooperation mechanisms with ECCAS and the AU, so as to facilitate this process.

(iii)    Governance and economic and financial assistance

18.    Participants recognized that the Government of the Transition was facing a serious budgetary crisis, which, in particular, impedes the restoration of security, State services and the payment of salaries, as well as the resumption of economic activities. They noted with appreciation the commitment of the authorities of the Transition to:

a)    resume discussions with the relevant international financial institutions for the adoption and implementation of appropriate economic reform programmes;

b)    ensure sound and transparent public financial management, on the basis of the recommendations of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and relevant international experiences. Such a management requires an effective control of the financial revenues of the country and an appropriate involvement of international financial institutions; and

c)    implement the relevant provisions of this Declaration, so as to enable the mobilization of financial, technical and other support of international partners, including the grant, by the IMF, of a rapid credit facility or grant of budget support.

19.    Participants pledged to facilitate and speed up, at the bilateral and multilateral levels, the procedures for financial assistance, taking into account the urgency and the magnitude of needs of the CAR. They agreed to reactivate the ongoing assistance programmes which had been interrupted as a result of the crisis. They urged the authorities of the Transition to work closely with the World Bank, the IMF, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the EU, in order to establish quickly a transparent management system of the financial resources in conformity with the above-mentioned paragraph 18 (b).

20.    Participants took note of the impending finalization by the AU of the modalities for the establishment, functioning and management of the Trust Fund, as provided for in the Brazzaville Appeal of 3 May 2013.

(iv)    Humanitarian situation

21.    Participants noted with deep concern the particularly alarming humanitarian situation obtaining in the country, as a result of the prevailing insecurity and other related factors. They expressed their appreciation to the humanitarian agencies which provide assistance to the affected populations in extremely difficult conditions and to the neighbouring countries hosting CAR refugees.

22.    Participants noted the commitment expressed by the authorities of the Transition to take the necessary measures to facilitate the return of internally displaced persons and refugees, and to ensure secured and unhindered access to the affected populations. Recognizing the urgent need to provide appropriate response to the humanitarian situation, Participants pledged to mobilize additional resources for humanitarian assistance, including support to the countries hosting refugees from the CAR.

(v)    On the way forward and the Follow-up mechanism

23.    Participants welcomed the expressed determination of the transitional Government and the Head of State of the Transition to implement the commitments outlined in this Declaration. In particular, they noted the fact that the transitional authorities were fully aware of the close and permanent link that exists between the implementation of the commitments made and the mobilization of international assistance. They urged the transitional authorities to show, at the earliest, clear and concrete proof of their determination to implement, in good faith, the commitments made. Having recalled the provisions of UN Security Council resolution 2121 (2013), underscoring the need for professional, balanced and representative CAR security forces, they took note of the commitment of the CAR Prime Minister to initiate consultations with all the transitional institutions, in order to reconsider the decision to integrate within the defense and security forces elements of the ex-SELEKA, in the interest of the long-term balance of the defense and security forces.

24.    Participants agreed to hold the 4th meeting of the ICG-CAR, in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, at the latest in February 2014, at a date to be agreed upon after consultations. This 4th meeting would be an opportunity to take stock of the implementation status of the commitments contained in this Declaration, in the spirit of mutual accountability and partnership.

25.    Participants requested the co-Chairs of the ICG-CAR, namely the Republic of Congo and the AU Commission, based in Bangui, to support, on a daily basis, the authorities of the Transition, to implement their commitments as contained in the present Declaration and to report on the progress made and the challenges faced at the next meeting of the ICG-CAR. In the discharge of this task, the co-Chairs will be supported by the representatives of the ECCAS General Secretariat, the UN, the EU and other partners.
    

[1] Algeria, Australia, Burundi, CAR, Cameroon, Chad, China, Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, France, India, Libya, Luxembourg, Nigeria, Russia, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, United Kingdom, United States of America, AfDB, AU, CEMAC, ECCAS, EU, ICRC, IMF, OIF, UN, World Bank.

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