Press Statement of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), at its 427th meeting on the incidents in Bangui on 29 March 2014 and the decision of the Republic of Chad to withdraw its c

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, April 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), at its 427th meeting held on 9 April 2014, recalled the briefing made by the Commissioner for Peace and Security at its 426th meeting held on 7 April 2014. Council also took note of the Information Note of the Chairperson of the Commission on the incidents in Bangui on 29 March 2014 and the decision of the Republic of Chad to withdraw its contingent from the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA).

Council reiterated the AU’s continued commitment to spare no effort to help stabilize the situation in the CAR. In this regard, Council welcomed the remarkable work of MISCA and the significant progress made in the implementation of the Mission’s mandate. Council paid tribute to the leadership of the Mission, including the Special Representative, the Force Commander and the Head of the police component, as well as the troop and police contributing countries, for their continued commitment to peace, security and stability in the CAR. Council also paid tribute to the uniformed personnel who died in the line of duty, and wished speedy recovery to the injured.

Council took note of the decision announced by the Government of Chad, on 3 April 2014, to withdraw its contingent from MISCA. Council welcomed the press statement issued, on 4 April 2014, by the Chairperson of the Commission, and strongly condemned the malicious and unfounded allegations against Chad, especially after the incident of 29 March 2014, at PK12, and in the course of which armed elements ambushed elements of the Chadian contingent, who were compelled to react in self-defence. Council deplored the haste with which false and misleading information on this incident was disseminated by some international media houses, thus contributing to the worsening of the climate of hostility created by spoilers in the CAR against the Muslim community, in general, and Chadian nationals, in particular.

Council reiterated its deep appreciation for the crucial role of Chad in the efforts to resolve the crisis facing the CAR. In this context, Council paid tribute to President Idriss Deby Itno of Chad, current Chair of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), for his personal involvement and the immense sacrifices made by his country towards peace in the CAR. Council welcomed the commitment of the Chadian Government to continue to work towards the resolution of the crisis in the CAR. Council also paid tribute to President Denis Sassou-Nguesso of the Republic of Congo, ECCAS Mediator, and the other leaders of the region, as well as to the ECCAS General Secretariat, for their tireless efforts and commitment. Council reiterated its conviction that a lasting solution to the crisis in the CAR requires concerted efforts of the region and continued international support for the transition and the political process. Council reiterated its call on the UN Security Council and other members of the international community to continue to lend their full support to the region.

Council noted with satisfaction the measures taken by the Commission to mobilize new troops to replace the Chadian contingent and welcomed the offers made by some Member States to contribute troops to MISCA. Council stressed the importance of close coordination with the Chadian authorities to ensure the orderly withdrawal of their troops and other uniformed personnel and avoid any vacuum which may jeopardize the gains made on the ground, in particular the security of the civilian populations. Council also noted with satisfaction the steps taken by the Commission to strengthen MISCA, as part of the follow-up to its communiqué of 7 March 2014. In this context, Council welcomed with appreciation the planned deployment of two Formed Police Units (FPUs) from Burundi, with airlift support from Algeria, as well as the offer by Djibouti to provide one FPU.

Council reiterated its support to MISCA, and encouraged the Mission to pursue and intensify its efforts aimed at stabilising the situation in the CAR.

Council urged the transitional authorities of the CAR, political leaders and other relevant stakeholders, to fully play the role expected of them in facilitating the smooth completion of the transition process and restoration of constitutional order in their country. In this regard, Council called upon the international community to continue to support their efforts.

Council reiterated its warning to all spoilers in the CAR, particularly the anti-Balaka elements, that they will be held accountable for their actions.

Council agreed to remain seized of the situation in the CAR.

Source: APO

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Press Statement of the The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), at its 426th meeting on the human rights situation in Mali, during the period of the occupation of the three northern r

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, April 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Peace and Security Council of the African Union (AU), at its 426th meeting held on 7 April 2014, was briefed by the Commissioner for Political Affairs of the AU on the human rights situation in Mali, during the period of the occupation of the three northern regions of Timbuktu, Gao and Kidal of the country by armed separatists in January 2012.

Council welcomed with appreciation the Report of the African Union Commission on the human rights situation in Mali elaborated on the basis of information gathered by the AU Human Rights Observers deployed in Mali, in implementation of the Communiqué PSC/AHG/COMM/2.(CCCLIII) of the Peace and Security Council adopted at its 353rd meeting held on 28 January 2013.

Council noted with deep concern the cases of human rights violations and abuses in Mali during the period of the occupation, which were characterized by acts of murder, amputations, violence against women and children, rape, floggings and damage of private and public properties, as well as the destruction of cultural heritage sites.

Council commended the Malian authorities for their commitment to fight against impunity and for the consolidation of peace and national reconciliation. Council urged the Malian authorities and other relevant stakeholders to take necessary steps to implement the recommendations contained in the Report.

Council requested the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, as well as other relevant AU Organs to engage with the Department of Political Affairs of the AU Commission in support of the implementation of recommendations contained in the Report.

Council further requested the Commission to regularly update the Council on the status of implementation of the recommendations contained in the Report.

Council agreed to remain seized of the matter.

Source: APO

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Union Election Observation Mission to the Presidential and Legislative Elections of 13 April 2014 in the Republic of Guinea-Bissau

BISSAU, Guinea Bissau, April 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — At the invitation of the Government of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has deployed an African Union Election Observation Mission (AU EOM) to the Republic of Guinea-Bissau to observe the Presidential and Legislative Elections scheduled for Sunday, 13 April 2014.

The AU EOM has the mandate to observe the 13 April 2014 elections in line with the relevant provisions of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, which is intended to enhance electoral processes in Africa, strengthen electoral institutions and the conduct of fair, free, and transparent elections; the AU/OAU Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa, adopted by the Assembly of the African Union in July 2002; the African Union Guidelines for Elections Observation and Monitoring Missions; the AU Long Term Observation Framework and other relevant international instruments governing election observation; and the Constitution and the laws of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau.

The Mission is led by H.E Joaquim Alberto Chissano, former President of the Republic of Mozambique, who arrived in Bissau today, 10 April 2014, and comprises 56 observers from the Pan-African Parliament, African Ambassadors to the African Union in Addis Ababa, Election Management Bodies and Civil Society Organisations from various African countries. The Mission has deployed 19 teams of observers in all nine regions of Guinea-Bissau. The Mission is assisted by a group of experts from the African Union Commission, Pan-African Parliament and the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA).

On 9 February 2014, the AU deployed a team of nine Long-Term Observers (LTO), as part of its AU EOM to the 13 April elections. Since its deployment, the LTO Team has met with interlocutors at national, regional and sector levels, including senior government officials, the Election Management Bodies, the Supreme Court, senior officers of the Armed Forces and the Police, representatives of political parties, representatives from civil society organisations, and the media. The LTO Team also observed the exhibition and correction of the provisional voter register, the electoral campaign, special voting and other components of the electoral process. In total, the LTO Team has observed these processes in 39 sectors, in all 8 regions and the autonomous sector of Bissau, for the past nine weeks.

As a result of its observation of the pre-election period, the LTO Team produced the following findings on the Guinea-Bissau electoral process so far:

1. The revision of the Law on Voter Registration to introduce an enhanced manual voter registration system, in order to establish a new voter register and to permit agents of political parties and coalitions to verify the process was a positive step toward making the electoral process more credible.

2. The registration of 775,508 voters, which corresponds to more than 95% of the established target, represents a remarkable achievement. However, the AU EOM is concerned with some shortcomings of the voter registration process, namely the case of voters who continue to wait for their voter’s cards in many regions of the country. The continued distribution of the voter cards in these last days of the electoral process is welcomed, and it is the opinion of the Mission that distribution should continue at polling stations on Election Day.

3. The AU EOM is also concerned with the discrepancy between the voter’s cards numbers of many voters and the number of the polling stations where they have been allocated to vote.

4. Notwithstanding these challenges experienced by election management bodies, electoral stakeholders have maintained confidence in them.

5. Political actors have respected the commitments undertaken by signing the Code of Conduct and Ethics in Elections on 20 March 2014 thus far. Political campaigns have been carried out in a peaceful environment, with reconciliatory messages from all political actors, with only isolated reports of minor campaign violence incidents.

6. The establishment by both national and international actors of a Joint Command with the mandate to secure election materials, election personnel and candidates before, during and after the elections till the swearing–in of a newly elected president is a very positive measure to ensure overall security of the electoral process.

7. Women in Guinea-Bissau represent 52 % of the registered electorate and have been very active as voter sensitization agents and present in the campaign rallies. However, only one of the 4 members of the CNE Secretariat is female and all 9 heads of the regional electoral commissions are male. None of the 13 presidential candidates is female and less that 30% of candidates for the legislative elections are women.

8. Electoral legislation continues not to provide for the observation of elections by citizen groups against the principles of citizen participation in all aspects of political life in their countries, as well as best practices in the African continent.

The AU EOM underlines that its assessment this far is based on part of the process only. As part of its mandate, the AU EOM will continue to engage relevant electoral stakeholders to closely follow the process, and provide advice when and if needed, until the electoral results are announced. Within 48 hours of the closing of the polls, the AU EOM will release its Preliminary Statement with its provisional assessment of the process and initial recommendations. The overall evaluation of the elections will be done after the Mission’s observation of the whole process through a comprehensive report.

The AU EOM calls on the National Elections Commission, Political Parties, Candidates, Transition Authorities, the Military and Security Personnel, the Civil Society, the Media and every Bissau Guinean to maintain the current temperate socio-political climate in the country. The Mission expresses its wishes for successful elections and encourages all citizens of Guinea-Bissau to continue in a peaceful electoral atmosphere as they have done so far.

The Secretariat of the Mission is based at the Azalai Hotel. For further information, please contact the Mission Coordinator: Ms. Karine Kakasi Siaba, +245 674 1373, Kakasik@african-union.org.

Bissau, 10 April 2014

Source: APO

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Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on the establishment of a United Nations peacekeeping operation in the Central African Republic

NEW YORK, April 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Secretary-General welcomes the adoption today of Security Council Resolution 2149, establishing the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). He trusts that this important decision of the international community will lead to the immediate, concrete and sustainable support that the Central African people need and deserve. The Secretary-General, deeply moved by his visit to the country on 5 April, again calls for an immediate cessation of the killings, targeted attacks and other atrocious human rights violations that continue with total impunity.

The Secretary-General commends the tireless efforts of the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic, MISCA, which will continue to implement its mandate until 15 September alongside French forces (Sangaris) and the recently authorized European Union Force in the Central African Republic, EUFOR. The United Nations will work closely with MISCA to ensure a seamless transition to MINUSCA. The Secretary-General strongly calls on all partners to increase their support to MISCA until MINUSCA becomes fully operational.

The Secretary-General recognizes the important role of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the African Union, and the Mediation led by the Republic of Congo in support of the political transition in the Central African Republic. This is the moment for the international community to demonstrate its collective support to the efforts undertaken by the Transitional Government, under the leadership of Catherine Samba-Panza, to bring long-lasting peace, stability and reconciliation to the Central African Republic.

The Secretary-General expresses his deep appreciation for the committed and courageous work of all United Nations personnel in the Central African Republic and, in particular, for the exemplary dedication of his Special Representative Babacar Gaye and the rest of the staff of the Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic, BINUCA.

Source: APO

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Africa: Meeting With South Sudanese Minister Awan Riak

WASHINGTON, April 11, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Media Note

Office of the Spokesperson

Washington, DC

April 10, 2014

Secretary of State John Kerry met today with the South Sudanese Minister in the Office of the President Honorable Awan Riak.

The Secretary noted his grave concern with respect to the situation there, and reaffirmed our support for the people of South Sudan and our readiness to stand with those who take bold steps to lead the country out of the crisis. He raised the need for the Government of South Sudan immediately to stop the fighting, provide full humanitarian access, and cease harassment and threats against the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). The Secretary emphasized the importance of full cooperation with the African Union Commission of Inquiry and the U.S. Government’s support for justice, reconciliation, and accountability for human rights violations and abuses.

They had a frank discussion of the way forward to heal the wounds of the violent conflict that broke out on December 15, and how to create a durable and inclusive path to peace. The Secretary noted that he continues to monitor events in South Sudan closely and called for progress toward inclusive, broad-based negotiations led by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development. The Secretary emphasized the U.S. Government’s continued call for South Sudan’s leaders to prioritize the interests of the South Sudanese people over their own personal or ethnic interests.

The United States will continue to stand with the people of South Sudan and with those who take the courageous – and necessary – steps to bring peace, stability and good governance to South Sudan, so that its people can return to their livelihoods and its economy can flourish. But we will not stand by while the hopes of a nation are held hostage to short-sighted and destructive actors.

On April 3, the President authorized targeted sanctions that can and will be used against those who contribute to conflict by undermining democratic processes or institutions or by obstructing the peace process and against those who commit human rights abuses in South Sudan.

Source: APO

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