Statement by Ambassador Jerry Matjila, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations, during the Security Council Meeting on the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa, 04 June 2019

Mr President,

We thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), Mr François Louncény Fall for the report on the situation in Central Africa and the activities of UNOCA.

South Africa recognises the important role played by UNOCA in the promotion of peace and security in Central Africa. We, thus, commend the efforts of Mr Fall, in discharging the mandate of UNOCA particularly in promoting stability in the region, and in preventing or mitigating election-related crises.

Mr President,

South Africa welcomes the signing of the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic as well as the formation of an all-inclusive government. We further express the view that all parties should seize this opportunity to implement the Peace Agreement in order to extricate CAR from the cycle of continued conflict.  In this respect, it is of vital importance for all stakeholders in CAR to put the interest of the people and country first above all other considerations, and work together towards bringing stability, peace, reconciliation and development to the country.

It is our conviction that elections are one of the positive signs toward consolidating democracy on the Continent. We, therefore, commend the DRC for holding its national elections in a relatively calm atmosphere that resulted in the peaceful transfer of power. We, however, express concern over the attempted coup in Gabon in January 2019. Our Continent should strive towards eliminating unconstitutional changes of government and this requires greater support for security sector reform and post conflict institution building. We thus urge UNOCA to continue to assist countries in the region in the preparation and conduct of elections by creating conditions more conducive to peaceful, inclusive and credible elections.

South Africa is encouraged by the improving security situation in the Pool region in the Republic of Congo as well as the easing of social tensions in Chad. Although we remain concerned by the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Cameroon, we are encouraged by the efforts undertaken by the country’s authorities to stabilise the situation and call upon all parties to refrain from any actions that could lead to a further deterioration of the situation.

We condemn the indiscriminate attacks against civilians and national security personnel by terrorist and armed groups in the region.  We are equally concerned about the increase in piracy and armed robbery against ships in the Gulf of Guinea.

We welcome the progress made in efforts to combat poaching and illicit trafficking in wildlife and natural resources as evidenced by the interceptions and arrests made by the Gabonese and Cameroonian authorities in terms of the illegal trade in kevazingo wood, pangolin scales and elephant tusks.

Mr President,

South Africa notes with concern the number of people that are in need of humanitarian assistance in the region. We urge humanitarian partners to continue providing fundamental humanitarian assistance to all populations in need, and for governments to facilitate access for humanitarian assistance to be delivered.

We encourage the peaceful resolution of disputes and inclusive dialogue where this is required in the region such as addressing the growing number of conflicts related to pastoralism and transhumance in the sub-region, among other issues.

South Africa notes the cross-cutting nature of issues in the region. In this regard, we commend the efforts to enhance the United Nations’ coherence and coordination in the region as evidenced by the close coordination between the African Union and UNOCA, ECCAS, the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS). This, amongst other things, will contribute to strengthening responses to address the Lake Chad Basin Commission in the context of the fight against Boko Haram and the Lord’s Resistance Army, maritime security, as well as conflict between farmers and herders.

Mr President,

South Africa remains concerned by the security threat posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army in CAR and the DRC. We therefore reaffirm the decision of the AU Peace and Security Council of 20 September 2018, to maintain the AU-led Regional Cooperation Initiative for the Elimination of the Lord’s Resistance Army (RCI-LRA) pending the development of a strategy to progressively phase out the RCI-LRA without leaving any security vacuum that the LRA could use to renew and intensify its destabilisation activities in the affected areas.

In closing Mr President, it should be recalled that the Council, at its meeting on 10 August 2018, requested the Secretary-General to undertake a review of the mandate of UNOCA. South Africa looks forward to receiving the outcomes emanating from the Secretary-General’s strategic review of the scope of UNOCA’s mandate and activities by 1 August 2019, with a view to strengthening the role of this political office in the region.

I thank you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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