Two African states, Central African Republic and Libya, have been in turmoil, thus, it is necessary to take stabilization and reconstruction measures. The commissioner for Peace and Security of the African Union told Sputnik how Russia could assist CAR and what steps the AU plan to take on Libya.
The African Union welcomed Russia’s possible participation in the future reconciliation conference in the Central African Republic (CAR) and the post-crisis stabilization process as a whole, which would all become a reality once the government responded to the opposition’s demands, Smail Chergui, the commissioner for Peace and Security of the African Union, told Sputnik in an interview.
“[Russia] can also join us and make sure that this next conference is a success. We are insisting on the necessary conditions to go in the best way with the security sector reform. This is one issue on which we can cooperate,” Chergui said on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) when asked how Russia could contribute to the CAR reconciliation process.
The official stressed that Russia as “a permanent member of the Security Council” had “a lot to offer in terms of stabilizing” CAR.
In addition, he pointed out that Russia could assist in “post-crisis stabilization and reconstruction” and could mobilize the UN bodies in charge of that and the international community.
The commissioner further noted that Russia had “huge experience that can be shared, in terms of demining and other things.”
On CAR Gov’t Reply to Opposition Calls for Nationwide Conference
The official also touched upon the issue of the future governance of CAR and opposition demands stating that the African Union was still waiting for a response from the government of CAR to the opposition’s demands in order to call a nationwide reconciliation conference to lay down principles for the future governance of the country, having no plan B for this peace initiative.
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“[CAR opposition] had 70 main demands… Some are security interests, others are about poverty. Also, they want to have a share in the political scene. You need to open up the government, maybe to have a national unity government. The government now has been officially given those documents, and it is now supposed to respond to them,” Chergui said.
“That response would prepare for a kind of a conference where everybody will meet. The idea is then to really draft the legal document, which can be a draft agreement between the government and the movements… Definitely it will not be something easy, but we do not have plan B. This time, we really have to push for it and make sure that everybody comes in, so that the country has a new start,” Chergui stressed.
The commissioner expressed hope that the government would come up with an adequate response to the proposals, made by some 14 armed groups and accumulated by the AU panel, in due course.
“I think the government has really started this work, because now the office of the president has two of these people, former Seleca, who are ministers,” he pointed out.
Chergui also stressed that CAR needed an economic reform and transparency in dealing with contracts, which would “convince their own people that it is now a new approach to the whole distribution of wealth, inclusion.”
Since 2012, the country has been destabilized by the conflict between the Muslim armed group Seleka, Christian Anti-balaka militias, and the government. In late August, Seleka and Anti-balaka signed a declaration of understanding after a Russia-brokered peace meeting in Khartoum.
The talks in Khartoum ran parallel to talks in the CAR town of Bouar, under the aegis of the African Union with 14 armed groups taking part, as a result of which the armed groups released a document containing 104 demands for the government.
On Libyan Issue
The commissioner of the AU also touched upon the issue of Libya stressing that the AU and the United Nations aim to organize a reconciliation conference, which would represent all Libyans in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.
“The Libyan situation is now really at the point that all those who say they are friends of Libya should really work jointly to help… Now Italy wants to organize a conference. Also in our roadmap we have a plan to convene a reconciliation meeting in Addis Ababa, of all the Libyans. We are trying to have it before the end of the year. We want to organize it with the UN, together AU-UN. That was part of our discussions here in New York,” Chergui said.
He noted that the UN-led election registration process and the dialogue which the organization maintained in about 40 towns across the country had partly laid the necessary basis for a future reconciliation conference.
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“I think the UN has started not only the registry of Libyans for elections, which was rather successful but also they have initiated the dialogue in around 40 towns within Libya. So normally that kind of pre-dialogue can prepare the ground for a conference on reconciliation,” the commissioner pointed out.
As for the conference on Libya hosted by Italy, Chergui said that “it looks like the initial thinking is changing, it’s not Sicily anymore, and the dates are not fixed yet,” noting that the AU maintained contacts with Rome.
In addition, the commissioner told Sputnik that general elections in Libya, currently scheduled for December 10, should only take place once all political forces are ready to accept their results, otherwise it may further aggravate the situation in the country.
“One thing we should all agree is that we cannot organize and go for elections if we do not have necessary conditions. We need to get Libyans to agree on how these elections are organized, what will be the outcome so that in the end they respect those results. Otherwise, the election can even complicate the situation more,” Chergui said.