Briefing by Abdou Abarry, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa, at a UN Security Council meeting on the Central African Region

Must read

June 10, 2024

Abdou Abarry, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), presenting the twenty-sixth report of the Secretary-General (document S/2024/420), said that, during the reporting period, the region has seen positive developments.  He welcomed the return of Constitutional order to Chad and Gabon, commending the facilitators of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) — Democratic Republic of the Congo President Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo and Central African Republic President Faustin Archange Touadéra.  The reporting period was marked by the conclusion of the transition in Chad with the adoption of a new constitution in December 2023 and presidential elections held on 6 May, he noted, also reiterating his intent to support the talks with the politico-military groups that have not signed the Doha peace agreement.  Turning to Gabon, he highlighted the inclusive national dialogue held in April, reporting that Gabonese authorities created a National Constitutional Committee charged with drawing up a draft constitution and draft electoral code.

He further highlighted progress made in justice and security reform in São Tomé and Príncipe and the agreement signed between the authorities and the Peacebuilding Commission that provides the release of $2.5 million by the Peacebuilding Fund.  Moreover, during the ECCAS Summit of Heads of State and Government, held in Equatorial Guinea on 15 March, Central African States lifted sanctions against Gabon, allowing it to “return to the ECCAS family”.  “Facilitating intraregional trade will play a crucial role in the promotion of stability and the prevention of conflicts in this subregion,” he added.  Highlighting the threat of non-constitutional change, he called on the States of the subregion to keep the political space open.  He recalled that during the fifty-sixth session of the UN Standing Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa, held in Rwanda in November 2023, the regional States mandated UNOCA to organize a regional conference on unconstitutional Government changes and their root causes.  The conference will take place on 1-2 July in São Tomé and Príncipe.

Noting that armed groups and violent extremists continue to “sow their reign of terror” despite the presence of military forces in the region, he welcomed the Joint Multilateral Force’s operations against Boko Haram and Da’esh-affiliated groups in the Lake Chad Basin.  However, in Cameroon, separatist groups continue their atrocities in the north-west and south-west regions by imposing “dead towns” and restricting access to education.  In May, more than 14 people were killed, including Government officials.  Yet, Cameroon remains the “economic engine” to the region and holds the greatest foreign reserve in the Central African Monetary Community region.  Further, the escalation of the 23 March Movement (M23) rebel group in the Great Lakes region caused 7.2 million internally displaced persons.  In that regard, he reported on his recent trip to Luanda — along with the Special Envoy Huang Xia and the Special Representative and Head of the UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) Bintou Keita — to support the Luanda Process.

Pointing to the extreme rainfall in the region, induced by climate change, he said that many Central and Eastern African States were struck by flooding and consequent infrastructure damage. Such crises pose security challenges, strain Government’s limited resources and can fuel social unrest and conflicts over access to resources, he added.  To that end, the Government of São Tomé and Príncipe organized a high-level conference on innovative climate financing, biodiversity conservation and sustainable development that called for the development of a road map for sustainable blue and green financing.  “It is our hope that the renewal of the UNOCA’s mandate under way will take into account this ambition of the Office to respond to the expectations of Member States of ECCAS for more cooperation and good offices in the years to come,” he said.

More articles

Latest article