Elections in Central African Countries Show Significant Progress, But Security Conditions Could Disrupt Democratic Strides, Briefers Tell Security Council
Noting that recent elections held in Angola, Congo, São Tomé and Príncipe and Equatorial Guinea showed significant progress towards democracy and rule of law, as well as a greater participation of women, briefers told the Security Council today that strengthened international and regional cooperation was needed to build and sustain peace and democratic strides in Central Africa in the face of persistent security challenges.
Abdou Abarry, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Central Africa and Head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), briefed the Council for the first time since his appointment on 28 July and presented the related report of the Secretary-General (document S/2022/896). The region had great challenges, but also great opportunities, particularly in the area of economic and social development and the building of democracy and the rule of law, he said, noting the peaceful holding of elections in São Tomé and Príncipe, Angola, Congo and Equatorial Guinea. Citing other positive developments, he highlighted the increased participation and representation of women in institutions and political processes and significant progress, as well, in maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.
However, in the Lake Chad Basin, extremist groups, although weakened, have continued to cause harm, he said, urging that military pressure must be maintained against those groups in a coordinated manner as part of the Multinational Joint Force. Meanwhile, in Cameroon, the situation in the north-west and south-west regions continues to threaten that country’s stability, with attacks on civilian targets, including schools. Still, the year 2023 will see significant political processes in certain Central African countries. Noting that the last elections in some of those countries were marked by violence, he called for international assistance and national and regional efforts to ensure peaceful electoral processes, and the Council’s increased political support towards that end.
Gilberto da Piedade Verissimo, President of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), said the ECCAS Commission deployed international electoral observation missions to Congo, Angola, São Tomé and Príncipe and Equatorial Guinea to monitor the electoral processes. In addition, ECCAS is working to implement an international fact-finding mission in Chad. An international fact-finding mission is also being operationalized in São Tomé and Príncipe to address the political and security crisis triggered by the recent presidential and legislative elections in 2021 and 2022.
Noting the worrisome situation in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as the terrorist movements and armed groups in South Kivu, North Kivu and Ituri, he said the Commission is exploring ways to send a regional force in the eastern part of the country as an observer. Calling on the cooperation of United Nations agencies, he said the challenging situations in Central Africa give rise to reimagined and renewed cooperation to promote peace and lasting security in the region.
In the ensuing debate, Council members welcomed the electoral processes in the region and the increased political participation and representation of women, noting them as prerequisites for democracy. They voiced alarm, however, about terrorism, ongoing violence and the humanitarian situation in the region and joined the briefers in calling for strengthened regional and international cooperation.
The representative of the United Kingdom, while highlighting the role of UNOCA in supporting inclusive and peaceful political processes, stressed it is up to Member States to deliver democratic elections and inclusive transitional processes. Regarding the eruption of violence in October in Chad, she welcomed the launch of an inquiry and urged UNOCA, ECCAS member States and the Chadian Government to ensure transparent and independent investigation. Voicing concern about the ongoing violence in the Central African Republic, she said the targeting of civilians, not only by armed groups, but by national forces and the Russian mercenary group, Wagner, continues to play a destabilizing role in the country.
Gabon’s representative, also speaking for Ghana and Kenya, expressed concern over persistent terrorist attacks by Boko Haram and dissident groups in the Lake Chad Basin and armed groups’ intensifying attacks in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Hoping the ongoing deployment of the East African Community Regional Force will help resolve the conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, she called on the international community to support these subregional efforts. She further stressed the importance of boosting cooperation between the States of Central Africa through ECCAS and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), as well as between the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) and UNOCA.
The representative of the United Arab Emirates, in a similar vein, said the joint meetings between special envoys and concerned stakeholders in the region — such as the one held in Nairobi last October — are all important examples of cooperation between regional organizations and the United Nations. Noting that heavy rains, massive floods and desertification continue to impact populations, in addition to increasing tensions and conflicts, she said it is critical to foster the communities’ resilience to climate change, including in the Lake Chad Basin and the Congo Basin.
Mexico’s representative, also underscoring that complex situations require enhanced regional coordination, called for regional organizations to offer greater assistance, particularly regarding the transition in Chad. Delays in that transition will create a dangerous political precedent in the region, he warned, urging the authorities of the transition to respect their obligations. Turning to Cameroon, he underlined a need for a political mobilization towards national reconciliation, noting that a new basis needs to be built for peaceful coexistence of the communities in which the Cameroonian diaspora could play a key role.
China’s representative underscored that the stability of Central Africa is vital for the entire continent, adding that the international community should devote more attention to the region while respecting the sovereignty and ownership of countries in the region. Further, the international community must help regional countries improve their living standards and achieve socioeconomic development, he said, calling for adequate humanitarian financing to help affected countries. China will continue to support Central African countries through means such as debt suspension and development assistance, he said.
Also speaking were representatives of the Russian Federation, Brazil, Albania, Norway, Ireland, United States, France and India.
The meeting began at 3:01 p.m. and ended at 4:40 p.m.
ABDOU ABARRY, Special Representative for Central Africa and Head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), said that, since he took office at the beginning of September, he has seen "the two faces” of Central Africa. It is a land of great challenges, but also of great opportunities, particularly in the area of economic and social development and the building of democracy and the rule of law. Regarding the latter, a review of recent electoral processes in the region shows significant progress despite major challenges. The change of Government in São Tomé and Príncipe and election results, although tight, in Angola are a clear indication that elections are far from being a simple formality in Central Africa. He also welcomed the holding of peaceful elections in the Congo and Equatorial Guinea.
In addition, he pointed to the increased participation and representation of women in institutions and political processes. Due to the incentive measures in Angola and São Tomé and Príncipe, the elections in those countries enabled a greater proportion of women to be represented in parliamentary assemblies and in Government. “The election of women to head national assemblies of those two countries, for the first time in their history, and the appointment of a woman, Esperança da Costa, as Vice-President of Angola, are a new source of pride for this subregion where Rwanda is already a global model,” he said. Other countries, such as Gabon, the host of UNOCA, have made significant efforts in recent years to promote the participation and political representation of women, as well.
Noting the region’s strengthened commitment to fight climate change, he noted that Central Africa is home to the Congo Basin, “one of the two green lungs of the planet”. However, this global ecological heritage can only be preserved with the cooperation of States in the region and assistance from partners. The region is feeling the full effects of climate change, particularly the multiplication of extreme weather events. Moreover, competition for natural resources such as water, land and grazing areas, continues to be one of the causes of intercommunity violence, which is increasing in number and intensity in the region and exploited by armed groups in the region.
Central Africa is facing other challenges linked to governance, human rights and security, he continued. Despite the organization of regular elections, the credibility of some is often questioned by certain actors who contest the legitimacy of the leaders arising from those elections. While contesting such results is often done peacefully, in other cases it has been violent, as seen in São Tomé and Príncipe and Chad. States of the region must further open the political and civic space for the peaceful and orderly expression of opinions and State authorities must ensure full respect for fundamental rights and freedoms and avoid any disproportionate use of force in maintaining public order.
On the security front, he said the subregion continues to host armed and terrorist groups. Thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes, sometimes even their countries of origin, and need humanitarian assistance. In the Lake Chad Basin, extremist groups, despite their weakening, have a high capacity to cause harm. Military pressure against these groups must be maintained in a coordinated manner as part of the Multinational Joint Force. To this end, he welcomed Chad's announcement on strengthening its military presence. He called on partners to provide adequate support to military efforts under way, and to the Regional Strategy for Stabilization, Recovery and Resilience of the Lake Chad Basin Areas Affected by the Boko Haram Crisis, which should address the root causes of the crisis. He also welcomed the cooperation between UNOCA and the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), as well as the actions of the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission in favour of a sustainable return of peace in the area.
Turning to Cameroon, he said the situation in the northwest and southwest regions of the country — a pillar of economic integration in Central Africa — continues to threaten its stability. Attacks on civilian targets, including schools, and the spread of violence to other parts of Cameroon is unacceptable and must stop immediately. He welcomed the Cameroonian authorities’ willingness to resolve the crisis peacefully through discussions with the armed groups and the diaspora.
Highlighting continued and significant progress in maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea, he called for strengthened national capacity and regional coordination, including as part of the Yaoundé Architecture. The efforts of ECCAS to adopt regional strategies on maritime governance, maritime security and the blue economy will culminate in the first maritime summit in the subregion to be held in January 2023 in Kinshasa. Despite its challenges, the region has many advantages and immense resources. Noting that the average age in the region is around 17.3 years, he said its well-educated and motivated youth will make it possible to rapidly achieve sustainable development. However, if not properly educated or included socioeconomically, then youth can become a factor of instability, he warned.
Underscoring the role of subregional organizations to promote a common view on key issues, he noted ECCAS’ willingness to play a key role in Central Africa as part of the African peace and security architecture. This is evidenced in the quick action projects to support the political transition in Chad and to preserve the political and democratic stability in São Tomé and Príncipe. Noting ECCAS’s cooperation with the United Nations, he recalled his joint visit with the President of the ECCAS Commission, Gilberto da Piedade Veríssimo, to São Tomé following the major events that occurred in the country. In addition, he recently met with colleagues in the Office of the Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region and in peacekeeping operations in the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to identify ways and means for united action on the peace, security and governance challenges facing the region.
The year 2023 will see significant political processes in certain Central African countries, he underscored. Noting that the last elections in those countries were marked by violence, he said international assistance and national and regional efforts might be necessary to ensure peaceful electoral processes. Affirming UNOCA’s commitment to its work in supporting States and regional organizations, he said the increased support of the Council politically will be essential in that regard.
GILBERTO DA PIEDADE VERISSIMO, President of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), describing the political and security situation in Central Africa, spotlighted the elections recently held in the Republic of Congo, Angola, São Tomé and Príncipe and Equatorial Guinea. The ECCAS Commission deployed international electoral observation missions to in each of these States to monitor the electoral processes. In Chad, ECCAS closely followed the work of the Inclusive and Sovereign National Dialogue, supported the ongoing transition process and continued consultations with the Chad authorities and other sociopolitical stakeholders. Recalling that ECCAS is working to implement an international fact-finding mission, he invited the United Nations, African Union, Community of Sahel-Saharan States and the Lake Chad Basin Commission to join this initiative.
Turning to the political and security crisis in São Tomé and Príncipe, triggered by the recent presidential and legislative elections in 2021 and 2022, he recalled the recent attack on military barracks that took place on 25 November. The military response resulted in some civilian arrests, including the former Speaker of Parliament, a member of the Central Bank and a former serviceman belonging to the former Buffalo Battalions of the former Defence Forces of South Africa, who were deemed to be behind the attack. The national and international communities were shocked by the dissemination of evidence showing the acts of torture and cruelty against unarmed detainees. Reporting on his meeting with the head of the military staff, BASTA political party and the former President of Parliament, he noted that an international fact-finding mission led by the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, with the support of the Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in São Tomé and Príncipe was being operationalized.
He went on to say that the situation in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo remains worrisome, as the terrorist movements and armed groups in South Kivu, North Kivu and Ituri continue to defy the initiatives undertaken by the Congolese authorities. The persistent activities of armed groups lay in the heart of diplomatic tensions between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda against the backdrop of reciprocal accusations of supporting these terrorist movements.
Reiterating the support of ECCAS for the Luanda and Nairobi processes, he said that the Commission is exploring ways to send a regional force in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo as an observer. The question of insecurity in this region can only be appropriately analysed if the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) is mentioned. Recalling that subregional organizations are seeking to deploy a regional force in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, he said the United Nations should re-evaluate the adequacy of its peace-keeping missions in contemporary crisis theatres. Prior to the establishment of the Commission, the Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa was one of the main frameworks for such cooperation, presented through joint conflict prevention actions in the region.
In this regard, he recalled the cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), International Organization for Migration (IOM), World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). “The challenges of the situations in the Central Africa Republic, the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad and São Tomé and Príncipe give an opportunity to rethink, re-imagine and recreate unceasingly our cooperation relations to promote peace and lasting security in the Central Africa,” he added.
ALICE JACOBS (United Kingdom), noting that elections are intrinsic to building and sustaining peace, as seen in Sao Tome and Principe and Angola, highlighted the role of UNOCA in supporting inclusive and peaceful political processes. However, it is up to Member States to deliver democratic elections and inclusive transitional processes. She voiced concern over Chad’s transition to constitutional rule as it is contravening conditions set out in the African Union Peace and Security Council communiqué of 14 May 2021 that President Idriss Déby Itno had agreed to uphold. Regarding the eruption of violence in October, she welcomed the launch of an inquiry and urged UNOCA, ECCAS member States and the Chadian Government to ensure transparent and independent investigation. She also called on the Chadian Government to ensure due legal process for the remaining individuals currently detained, including minors. The ongoing crises and the dire humanitarian situation in Cameroon also require urgent attention, she said, urging all parties to engage in inclusive dialogue and enable safe access of humanitarian assistance. Also concerning was the ongoing violence in the Central African Republic. Targeting of civilians not only by armed groups, but by national forces and the Russian mercenary group, Wagner, continues to play a destabilising role in the country, she asserted.
LILLY-STELLA NGYEMA NDONG (Gabon), also speaking for Ghana and Kenya, noted the active participation of women and young people in political processes, particularly in Angola with the election of the first female President of the National Assembly. She cited the signing of the Doha Peace Agreement and the holding of the “Inclusive and Sovereign National Dialogue” launched in N’Djamena in Chad — significant for a return to constitutional order. Condemning the incidents following the demonstrations of 20 October, resulting in the death of several civilians, she called on Chadian authorities to speed up investigations into the events. She further denounced the attempted coup in São Tomé and Principe on 25 November, calling on the international community to support it in its quest for economic development, democracy and good governance. Voicing concern over persistent terrorist attacks by Boko Haram and dissident groups in the Lake Chad Basin, and armed groups intensifying attacks in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, she called on regional States and the international community to address the root causes of terrorism.
Welcoming the ongoing deployment of the East African Community Regional Force, she expressed hope that this will help resolve the disastrous conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, calling on the international community to support these subregional efforts. She further stressed the importance of boosting cooperation between the States of Central Africa through ECCAS and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), as well as between the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) and UNOCA. There is a growing and record number of refugees and displaced persons in the region, with 9.7 million people in the Lake Chad basin needing humanitarian assistance, with recurrent episodes of floods and droughts force people to migrate, leading to intercommunal clashes. Stressing that the future of the planet depends heavily on the Congo Basin rainforest, she recalled that Africa is the continent that pollutes the least and is the most vulnerable to natural disasters.
GHASAQ YOUSIF ABDALLA SHAHEEN (United Arab Emirates) noted that while multilateral efforts have helped reduce piracy incidents in the Gulf of Guinea, there are still many issues requiring attention, including attacks by the Boko Haram terrorist group in the Lake Chad region. The joint meetings between special envoys and concerned stakeholders in the region — such as the one held in Nairobi last October — are all important examples of cooperation between regional organizations and the United Nations. She noted the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is concerned about the situation of 13 million people in the region. Over 7.5 million are internally displaced, with more than half in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo alone. All of them are in need of urgent humanitarian relief. Further, the ongoing crisis in the north-western and south-western regions of Cameroon must be addressed. On climate change, heavy rains, massive floods and desertification continue to impact populations and cause damage to their properties, in addition to increasing tensions and conflicts. It is therefore critical to foster the communities’ resilience to climate change, including in the Lake Chad Basin and the Congo Basin, requiring the investment of more time and resources to develop effective and sustainable solutions to the challenges.
ENRIQUE JAVIER OCHOA MARTÍNEZ (Mexico) noted that, although progress was made in Central Africa in elections and maritime security, a number of regional challenges remained. Acknowledging that complex situations require enhanced regional coordination, he called for regional organizations to offer greater assistance regarding the transition in Chad. Delays in that transition will create a dangerous political precedent in the region, he said, urging the authorities of the transition to respect their obligations. Turning to Cameroon, he underlined a need for a political mobilization towards national reconciliation, noting that a new basis needs to be built for peaceful coexistence of the communities in which the Cameroonian diaspora could play a key role. Highlighting the fundamental role of UNOCA in strengthening regional coordination, he pointed out that it must contribute to the building of regional institutional architecture. He further underscored the importance of the institutional reform of ECCAS. As well, the Kinshasa Convention could be used more effectively to combat the illicit flows of weapons. Recognizing that the support of the international community will only provide results if national political actors assume their work, he emphasized that national actors must commit to respecting the rules of the “democratic game” and the outcome of elections.
SUN ZHIQIANG (China) highlighted the active measures taken by countries in Central Africa to maintain political stability and restore socioeconomic development. Due to the global economic downturn and geopolitical conflicts, the region’s political and economic situation is marked by an increased risk of uncertainty. The stability of Central Africa is vital for the entire continent, he stressed, adding that the international community should devote more attention to the region while respecting the sovereignty and ownership of countries in the region. He acknowledged the progress made by the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and voiced his confidence that the Government of Cameroon is capable of properly resolving issues in the south-western and north-western regions. He also stressed the need to help regional countries improve their living standards and achieve socioeconomic development. In addition, he called for adequate humanitarian financing to help affected countries alleviate their financial distress and humanitarian crisis, eradicate poverty, build infrastructure, improve education and health and increase employment. China will continue to support Central African countries through means such as debt suspension and development assistance, he said.
ANNA M. EVSTIGNEEVA (Russian Federation) said that “good offices” of the Special Representative are solely needed in the subregion. Recognizing the importance of the mediation work in coordination with the regional mechanisms, she stressed that the Russian Federation was paying close attention to regional efforts to develop coordinated approaches to counter relevant threats. Noting that Boko Haram remains one the main challenges to peace and security in the region, she said that fighters use porous borders to flow out from one country to another. Spotlighting piracy in the Gulf of Guinea as one of the instability factors, she acknowledged some positive developments in this regard. Turning to Cameroon, she urged the parties to show restraint and reject all forms of violence. The Central African Republic, with the support of partners, including the Russian Federation, managed to overcome the most difficult phase of combatting. Reiterating support for Bangui in combatting armed groups, she expressed concern over the serious humanitarian situation in the subregion. In terms of preventing crisis and settling conflict, a key role should be played by the regional States themselves, she emphasized.
JOÃO GENÉSIO DE ALMEIDA FILHO (Brazil), highlighting the successful completion of electoral processes in the Congo, Angola, São Tomé and Príncipe and Equatorial Guinea, said he was encouraged that most elections were held in a peaceful and orderly manner. Underscoring positive results in maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea, he pointed to the Yaoundé Architecture — a successful cooperation initiative which brings together regional and international organizations. However, the region is faced with many challenges, including long-running conflicts exacerbated by the COVID‑19 pandemic, the conflict in Ukraine and increased global inflation. The crisis in Cameroon is particularly troubling, he said, condemning attacks against schools and acts of violence against teachers and students. In Chad, despite progress in the political transition, the violence that occurred on 20 October gives rise to great concern. In São Tomé and Principe, the peaceful transfer of power in October 2021 and the orderly legislative and local elections last September were positive steps. However, the recent attack on the headquarters of the armed forces is a worrisome development, he observed.
ALBANA DAUTLLARI (Albania), voicing concern about the situation in the north-western and south-western regions of Cameroon, stressed that justice must be served to all parties involved in attacks against civilians, schools, and children. To end Boko Haram’s reign of terror, States of the region must intensify cooperation for a strong and unified response. Noting the spread of hate speech throughout the region, she welcomed the adoption in Kinshasa of the draft Regional Strategy and Action Plan for the Prevention and Fight against Hate Speech in Central Africa, and voiced hope for the swift signing of the agreement by the Governments and Heads of States in the region. Human suffering is aggravated by the actions of armed groups, effects of climate change and increased prices of food and fuel imports, she pointed out, encouraging all international partners to increase support for affected States. Notwithstanding the successful completion of elections in Angola, Congo, São Tomé and Príncipe, the challenges in other countries could further aggravate the political situation. The establishment of democratically elected and inclusive Governments throughout the region and increase of institutional capacities are preconditions for bringing peace and tackling the region’s imminent challenges, she said.
TRINE SKARBOEVIK HEIMERBACK (Norway) reported that her country’s Deputy Foreign Minister visited the Democratic Republic of Congo where he shared his deep concern about the worsening humanitarian and security situation in the east. She also said she was appalled by the killing of civilians — including children — in the massacre in the village of Kishishe last week, calling on all armed groups to lay down their weapons. Turning to Chad, she commended the efforts of UNOCA, ECCAS and the African Union in supporting dialogue in the region. Highlighting the role of UNOCA in charting the way on climate and security, she commended its report, “Sustaining Peace in Central Africa through Addressing the Adverse Impact of Climate Change on Peace and Security”, which succinctly presents the challenges the region is facing. Norway will co-host a third Lake Chad Conference in January that will seek to address the urgent humanitarian needs and advance joint stabilization and development efforts, she announced. Spotlighting the momentum created with regard to the maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea at the first ECCAS conference in Kinshasa and at the recent meeting of the Group of Seven Group of Friends of the Gulf of Guinea (G7++FOGG), she reiterated Norway’s support for UNOCA activities.
MARTIN GALLAGHER (Ireland) noted that one year ago, his country joined Niger in tabling a draft thematic resolution on climate and security, but the text was not adopted. He called on the Council to investigate and address the impacts of climate change on peace and security. Preservation of the Congo Basin and promotion of traditional knowledge and local peace infrastructures can help prevent and peacefully resolve conflicts and enhance local and regional peace consolidation. Citing ongoing instability in several Central African countries that are creating a dire humanitarian situation, he underlined the impact on women and girls who are facing higher rates of sexual and gender-based violence. The socioeconomic situation is also concerning, exacerbated by the Russian Federation’s war in Ukraine and consequent global rise in food prices. While welcoming the peaceful hosting of elections in countries throughout the region, he cited electoral governance challenges, reiterating a call for inclusive and transparent processes. He further expressed concern over recent violence in N’Djamena in Chad, calling on the transitional Government and the Chair of ECCAS to resolve the tensions, revive the political transition, and ensure the holding of free and fair elections.
TRINA SAHA (United States) expressed concern by the result of the national dialogue that undermined confidence in Chad’s transition, stressing the need to develop independent mechanisms to organize elections. Further, she strongly condemned the violence between the Chadian security forces and demonstrators. Similarly, in Cameroon, she decried continued violence and attacks against civilians. Commending the leadership of the Central African Republic’s Government in the peace process, she encouraged the country to strengthen its ties with the United Nations peacekeeping mission. She also drew attention to the devastating humanitarian and security situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Moreover, she urged all Member States to counter Al-Qaida and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as Da’esh, more proactively by imposing asset freezes, travel bans and arms embargos on their members and affiliates. She also announced that her Government is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information that leads to the arrest or conviction of Joseph Kony who is wanted for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court.
NATHALIE BROADHURST ESTIVAL (France) underlined the national dialogue in Chad and the signing of the Agreement between the Government of the Sudan and the Liberation and Justice Movement for the Adoption of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, among other things, as positive steps. However, the violence of 20 October is a reminder of the fragility of the ongoing transition. An international, impartial and independent investigation must be conducted as soon as possible. Voicing concern over the situation in north-west and south-west Cameroon, she also called on the countries of the region to show an increased commitment to make political progress in the Central African Republic. In addition, she reaffirmed support for the stability of São Tomé and Principe, which is an example of democracy in the region. Central Africa must prioritize respect for human rights and inclusive governance through electoral processes that allow the free and equal participation of all actors, including women and young people. She welcomed improved coordination between the region’s security and defence forces within the Joint Multinational Force, helping to combat the terrorist threat from Boko Haram and Islamic State in Africa. Citing ongoing concern over the deterioration of the humanitarian situation — as evidenced by the very high number of refugees and internally displaced persons in Chad and Cameroon — she called for an accelerated response, as the region is bearing the brunt of the dramatic consequences of the war in Ukraine, particularly on food security.
RUCHIRA KAMBOJ (India), Council President for December, speaking in her national capacity, said the successful holding of elections in Angola, Congo, Equatorial Guinea and São Tomé and Príncipe is yet another positive indication of democracy taking strong and firm roots in Central Africa, despite some pitfalls in the processes. Despite the developments in Chad, and as challenges remain, all stakeholders must engage in dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues and recommit to the transition process. She condemned the terrorist acts perpetrated by Boko Haram in Cameroon and the Lake Chad Basin and underscored the need for well-coordinated and well-equipped regional strategies to deal with terrorism in Africa. “Downplaying the impact of terrorism on the security of region and overplaying other factors impinging on regional peace will only serve to distort our understanding of the problem, and in turn, our responses,” she said. Noting the improved maritime security situation in the Gulf of Guinea, she said the international community must follow through in bolstering maritime security capabilities in the region and provide adequate support to national strategies to deal with acts of piracy. Her country’s development assistance and coordination has been steadfast, she said, noting that it has extended soft loans worth $2 billion for projects in agriculture, transport, power and water supply to countries in the region.
* The 9212th Meeting was closed.