The situation in Central Africa and the activities of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa - Report of the Secretary-General (S/2022/896)



I. Introduction

1. The present report is submitted pursuant to the statement of the President of the Security Council dated 10 August 2018 (S/PRST/2018/17), in which the Council requested the Secretary-General to keep it informed about the activities of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) every six months. It provides an assessment of the major political and security trends in Central Africa since the report dated 26 May 2022 (S/2022/436). It also provides an update on the situation in the Lake Chad basin region, pursuant to Council resolution 2349 (2017).

II. Major developments in the Central Africa subregion

A. Political, peace and security developments and trends

2. The period under review was marked by electoral processes in Angola, the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Sao Tome and Principe, the ongoing transition in Chad and continued violence in Cameroon and the Lake Chad basin. While elections were generally peaceful and orderly, the subregion faced serious electoral governance challenges. Revisions of voters’ lists were a particular source of tensions. Low voter turnout, boycott of the elections in some countries and requests for further independent and credible verification and tabulation of elections results underlined a general mistrust of the electoral systems in the subregion.

Political development and trends

3. In Angola, general elections were held on 24 August. On 26 August, the electoral observation missions of the African Union, the Southern African Development Community, the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Community of Portuguese - Speaking Countries noted that election day was peaceful and orderly, while also pointing out some irregularities in the electoral process, including the low number of national and international observers, insufficient independence of the National Electoral Commission, poor voter education and unequal media coverage. Prior to the elections, the opposition and civil society groups claimed that voters’ lists included 2 million deceased citizens and expressed concerns that this could lead to fraud. On 29 August, the commission announced that the ruling Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA) had won, with 51.17 per cent of the vote, followed by União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola (UNITA), with 43.95 per cent. From 1 to 8 September, UNITA and Convergência Ampla de Salvação de Angola - Coligação Eleitoral filed legal complaints with the commission and the Constitutional Court to contest the official result. Both ruled against the complaints, and on 8 September the Court declared that the results announced by the commission were final. On 15 September, João Lourenco and Esperança da Costa were inaugurated as President and Vice-President respectively. On 16 September, 220 members of the National Assembly – more than 30 per cent of them women – were sworn in. An MPLA member was elected as the first woman President of the National Assembly. On 24 September, more than 2,000 supporters of the opposition demonstrated in Luanda against alleged electoral fraud. On 6 October, President Lourenco met the leader of UNITA, who stated that the meeting was dedicated to understanding the vision, perspective and concerns of the Angolan people, adding that it was always possible to collaborate for the national interest.

4. Burundi saw increased engagement with regional organizations, increased engagement with neighbouring countries and a change in several key government positions. The Prime Minister, Alain Guillaume Bunyoni, was replaced by the then Minister of the Interior, Gervais Ndirakobuca. On 22 July, the President, Evariste Ndayishimiye, was elected Chairperson of the East African Community for a oneyear term. On 15 August, Burundi announced the deployment of military troops to eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo as part of a bilateral agreement between the two countries. The troops continued to operate under the framework of an EAC regional force.

5. The situation in Cameroon was marked by continued violence in North-West and South-West Regions, a refugee crisis in East and Adamawa Regions and continued terrorism and intercommunal conflicts in Far North Region. These crises had a profound impact on women and girls. Separatist armed groups in North-West and South-West Regions carried out several attacks in West Region. On 4 August, the Government convened the follow-up committee on the Major National Dialogue in Yaoundé. A subsequent virtual conference was held on 11 September, attended by representatives of diaspora groups. Efforts to encourage inclusive dialogue between key stakeholders in the North-West and South-West crisis continued.

6. In Chad, the political transition passed some critical milestones, but tensions increased relating to the initially envisaged end date of the transition. On 8 August, the transitional authorities and 34 of the 52 politico-military groups that had been participating in the Doha pre-dialogue since 13 March signed the Doha Agreement for Peace and the Participation of the Politico-Military Groups in the Inclusive, Sovereign National Dialogue. Only one woman representative participated in the pre-dialogue. Eighteen rebel groups, including the Front pour l’alternance et la concorde au Tchad (FACT), did not sign the agreement, citing grievances pertaining to participation quotas in the national dialogue, the release of prisoners of war and the eligibility of transitional authorities to run in post-transition elections. Many of these grievances were echoed by segments of the political opposition and civil society organizations in N’Djamena.

7. On 20 August, the Inclusive, Sovereign National Dialogue was launched in N’Djamena in the presence of key national, regional and international stakeholders. Participants included representatives of political parties, Doha Agreement signatories, civil society organizations, including women’s and youth organization s, traditional leaders, members of the diaspora, provincial authorities, defence and security forces and the Government and State institutions, inter alia. FACT, the coalition of civil society organizations Wakit Tama and the opposition party Les Transformateurs boycotted the dialogue, citing concerns over representation and methodology. On 19 September, the Catholic Church, which had been involved in mediation efforts with the political and armed opposition, withdrew from the dialogue. In a communiqué issued following its session of 19 September on the ongoing political transitions on the continent, the African Union Peace and Security Council reiterated the main points of its decision of 14 May 2021 calling on transitional authorities to respect the 18-month transition timeline and for transitional authorities to be ineligible to run in the elections.

8. On 1 October, the participants in the national dialogue in Chad adopted by acclamation recommendations on the way forward with the transition for the dissolution of the Transitional Military Council and the appointment of the President of the Council as Transition President for a “second transition” lasting up to 24 months, the holding of a referendum on an adjusted version of the 1996 Constitution and the form of the State, the doubling of the number of seats in the National Transition Council and the establishment of a second chamber of Parliament. Notably, the dialogue recommended that all Chadians who meet legal requirements be allowed to run in the next election, including members of transitional institutions. In a communiqué issued on 5 October, ECCAS took note of the recommendations from the dialogue on the timetable for the transition and encouraged authorities to pursue dialogue in view of encouraging hold-out groups to join the process. On 10 October, the President of the Transitional Military Council, Mahamat Déby Itno, was sworn in as Transition President. On 14 October, he appointed a Government of National Unity led by former opposition leader Saleh Kebzabo. Members of the former Cabinet maintained strategic portfolios, including the Ministries of Defence and Public Security and Finance and Hydrocarbons, while several opposition figures and members of the politico-military groups that signed the Doha peace agreement were included in the Government. Women make up slightly less than 30 per cent of the new Government.

9. On 20 October, the initially envisaged end date of the political transition in Chad, opposition segments protested in N’Djamena and a few other locations, mostly in the south of the country, despite a prohibition by the Government. Some protestors engaged in violence, including in N’Djamena, where the headquarters of the party of the recently appointed Prime Minister were attacked. Security forces intervened with tear gas and live ammunition. According to the Government, about 50 people were killed during these events, including at least 10 police officers, and 300 others were injured. The Prime Minister accused the opposition of mounting an armed insurrection and announced a curfew in N’Djamena and three other locations, as well as the suspension of the activities of Les Transformateurs, Wakit Tama and the Parti socialiste sans frontières. On 25 October, an extraordinary ECCAS summit on Chad was convened in Kinshasa and resulted in the appointment of the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Chairman of ECCAS, Félix Tshisekedi, as facilitator for the Chadian transition. Participants at the summit further urged bilateral and multilateral partners to strengthen their diplomatic, financial, material and technical support for the transition. On 11 November, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission gave a briefing to the African Union Peace and Security Council on the situation in Chad. The Council did not take a decision on the matter.

10. In the Congo, the reporting period was marked by the holding of legislative and local elections on 10 and 31 July. According to the results validated by the Constitutional Court on 14 August, the ruling Parti congolais du travail won seven seats each. Although a large segment of the opposition boycotted the elections, citing irregularities, African Union and ECCAS observation missions noted that the elections were held in an improved environment compared with that of the 2017 legislative elections, in part owing to the economic recovery and an overall stable internal security context. Their recommendations were focused on the need to maintain and strengthen permanent and inclusive dialogue, in particular elections, and to enhance the autonomy of the Independent National Electoral Commission.

11. In Equatorial Guinea, the reporting period was marked by preparations for elections. On 20 September, based on a related recommendation from the Senate and citing financial reasons, the President, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo decreed that presidential, legislative and local elections would be held simultaneously on 20 November. This advanced the date of the presidential election, which was previously scheduled for the first quarter of 2023. On 23 September, on behalf of the Partido Democrático de Guinea Ecuatorial (PDGE), the Vice-President, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, announced that the ruling party had nominated the incumbent President as its candidate for the presidential election. Buenaventura Monsuy Asumu of the Partido de la Coalición Social Demócrata (PCSD) and Andrés Esono Ondo of the Convergencia Para la Democracia Social (CPDS) were also nominated by their parties. The campaign period lasted from 3 to 18 November. Although no violent incidents were reported on voting day, the CPDS candidate alleged massive fraud, irregularities and cases of forced public voting on the part of PDGE, which rebutted the allegations. According to preliminary results announced on 26 November by the Minister of the Interior, who is also the President of the Electoral Commission, Mr. Obiang Nguema Mbasogo was re-elected for a sixth term, with 94.9 per cent of the votes cast and voter participation of 98 pe r cent. The ruling PDGE and 14 allied parties also won all seats in the two chambers of Parliament, where the opposition had held one unoccupied seat during the previous legislature. The final results will be announced by the Constitutional Court.secured 111 out of 151 seats in the National Assembly. The representation of women increased from 17 seats in 2017 to 20 in the current legislature. The main opposition parties, Union panafricaine pour la démocratie sociale and Union des démocrates humanistes,

12. In Gabon, developments revolved around the country’s international positioning and high-profile corruption cases. On 25 June, Gabon officially joined the Commonwealth of Nations during the organization’s twenty-sixth summit of Heads of States and Governments, held in Kigali. In July, several senior executives of the Gabonese administration and national hydrocarbon company were convicted of embezzlement of public funds and money-laundering. Their lawyers denounced political motivations behind the trials. On 13 August, a former opposition member of parliament, who had joined the opposition just before the 2016 presidential election, was released after six years in prison for instigating violence.

13. In Sao Tome and Principe, overall developments revolved around the legislative, regional and local elections, which were held on 25 September. On 14 September, President Carlos Vila Nova promulgated a gender parity law requiring a minimum representation of 40 per cent of women on lists of candidates for elections and in the composition of the new Government, which entered into force on 19 November. On 18 September, a former Prime Minister and leader of the opposition party Acção Democrática Independente (ADI), Patrice Trovoada, returned to the country, following four years spent in self-imposed exile. The decision of the National Electoral Commission not to update the electoral roll sparked tensions and criticism, as it effectively excluded some 10,000 young citizens who had recently turned 18 years of age from exercising their right to vote. According to observers of the European Union, the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries and ECCAS, the electoral operations were well organized, and the country was praised for the peaceful nature of the vote; however, they pointed out weaknesses in election administration owing to the temporary and politicized nature of the National Electoral Commission. Final election results were announced by the Constitutional Court on 3 October, which confirmed the absolute majority of ADI in the National Assembly, with 30 out of 55 seats. ADI also won 42 out of 68 local council seats. In total, eight women were elected to the National Assembly. On 11 November, Patrice Trovoada took office as Prime Minister. On 14 November, the eighteenth constitutional Government was sworn in, comprising 11 ministers, including four women (36 per cent). The new Government includes a Ministry of Women’s Rights.