The Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in the Central African Republic, formally adopted today
07 May 2009
Peacebuilding Commission endorses integrated strategy for long-term development, end to cycle of crises in Central African Republic / Chair of Country-Specific Configuration Describes Strategic Framework as Proof of Will to End Violence, Isolation, Desolation
NEW YORK, May 7, 2009/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Seizing the opportunity for sustainable peace in the Central African Republic, afforded by the success of last year’s inclusive political talks and the decision by key rebel factions to disarm, the Peacebuilding Commission today endorsed an integrated strategy to steer the engagement and dialogue among the Government, the United Nations and other international partners with a view to securing long-term development and breaking the cycle of multidimensional crises that has afflicted the landlocked country for decades.
The Strategic Framework for Peacebuilding in the Central African Republic, formally adopted today, identifies three priority areas for those partnership efforts: security-sector reform, including disarmament, demobilization and reintegration; governance and the rule of law; and economic expansion aimed at regional growth and organized around “development poles”.
It outlines the principles and modalities of cooperation, identifies initiatives under way, and analyses priorities, goals, challenges and threats to peacebuilding. Among the top priorities are reorganizing and deploying well-trained and equipped security forces, restoring trust between the people and Government institutions, organizing credible and transparent elections, and reviving economic activities.
In June 2008, the Central African Republic became the fourth country — after Burundi, Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau — to be placed on the agenda of the Peacebuilding Commission, which was established in 2005 to help countries in post-conflict situations avoid sliding back into war or chaos. The 31-member body agreed to take up the Central African Republic following a request from the Government, which, despite having made strides in consolidating peace, did not receive sufficient tax receipts to cover its security needs, the regular functioning of State services or debt repayments.
The strategy is consistent with strategic directions outlined in the national poverty reduction strategy paper for 2008-2010 and aims to support Government efforts to rapidly execute the recommendations resulting from the inclusive political dialogue. It seeks to shore up the Central African Republic’s fragile socio-political situation, which remains unstable due to ongoing armed conflict, particularly in the north-east, the existence of a large population of internally displaced persons and refugees from conflicts in neighbouring Sudan and Chad, and weak State services outside Bangui, the capital, its immediate vicinity and other main towns. The Government and the Peacebuilding Commission will conduct biennial reviews with the participation of all stakeholders in the Strategic Framework.
“The Framework is proof of the will of the Government and citizens of the Central African Republic to put an end to a long period of brutal violence, isolation and desolation,” said Jan Grauls ( Belgium), Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission’s country-specific configuration for the Central African Republic. The adoption of the Strategy was an “important milestone” which marked the beginning of a new phase in bringing sustainable peace to the Central African Republic. It also served as an expression of the world community’s desire to aid that process.
Welcoming the adoption via video link, Sylvain Maliko, Minister for Economy Planning and International Cooperation of the Central African Republic, said that, with the comprehensive peace agreement and the national political dialogue, 2008 had seen major developments. Due to the general amnesty, all players in the crisis had come together to discuss the country’s problems and produce various recommendations. Alongside his partners, the President intended to take that robust partnership forward and the Strategic Framework would reinforce that effort.
He further stressed that the critical disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process could be achieved only with assurances for overall security-sector reform. It was important to look at interrelated aspects of that process, particularly because its results must lead to economic development. There was also a need to create development architecture to help people in rural areas meet their needs.
Also from Bangui, Cyriaque Gonda, Minister for Communications, Good Citizenship, Dialogue Monitoring and National Reconciliation, said a number of delicate issues had been addressed in more than 300 recommendations during the inclusive political dialogue. Since strict implementation of those recommendations would be pivotal in sustainable peacebuilding, three committees — covering the political, governance and security arenas — had been established. To corroborate their activity, a follow-up committee had been set up with 25 members, many of them from the opposition, civil society and other groups.
Jean-Francis Bozizé, Minister for National Defence, highlighted the Government’s political dialogue, including with those still bearing arms, while acknowledging that the situation on the ground remained tense. Various groups sought to create a certain situation which the Government was trying to manage. Nevertheless, security-sector reform was under way, with early timetables having already been met. The Government faced implementation challenges and needed support in order to implement medium-term recommendations.
Also speaking by video link, Antoine Gambi, Minister for Foreign Affairs, added that, being new, the security-sector reform process required consolidation as well as the means for full implementation. Structures had been set up, daily activities were under way and the Government was trying to ensure national ownership of the process. The next round table on security-sector reform would take place in June.
Several members of the Peacebuilding Commission saluted the political and social momentum in the Central African Republic, and stressed the Government’s primary responsibility in continuing to build the peace. Gabon’s representative emphasized the importance of avoiding any situation in which political opposition groups would want to rearm, thereby jeopardizing the gains made to date. If disarmament, demobilization and reintegration efforts were unsuccessful, the rest of the peace process could be compromised.
Echoing that sentiment, the representative of the United States said that with violence spreading across the north and setting the stage for ethnic rather than merely political violence, time was growing short. The disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process was an essential element in arresting that spread and allowing the Central African Republic to leverage its vast natural resources.
Many delegations expressed concern about the absence of funding mechanisms and the lack of clarity as to how resources would be used during the peacebuilding effort. A representative of the World Bank said that, as an “aid orphan” with limited capacity to manage its own needs from its own resources, the Central African Republic faced critical financing gaps. Unfortunately, World Bank support was similarly constrained, particularly with respect to International Development Association funds through 2011. The Bank was actively looking to ensure that the country could benefit from other funds made available by the international community, and working to establish a new subregional trust fund for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Jamaica (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement), Morocco, Japan, South Africa, El Salvador, Benin and France.
Making a statement on behalf of the European Community was the representative of the European Union.
The Peacebuilding Commission will meet again at a date and time to be announced.