Fragile democratic gains in central Africa at risk as violence escalates


Attacks by armed groups including Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province pose threats to central Africa’s fragile stability the UN Security Council heard this week at the same time, pointing out crucial democratic gains must be protected.

François Louncény Fall, special representative for Secretary General Antonio Guterres and head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), said recent incidents – including the death of President Idriss Déby of Chad at the hands of rebel fighters and that country’s subsequent political transition – were serious obstacles to lasting peace in the sub-region.

Noting Chad is at the nexus of the region’s toughest security challenges, Fall said dynamics in neighbouring Libya, Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR) , could negatively impact the country as it presses on with political changes following Deby’s death.

The risks are further exacerbated by activities of terrorist groups in the Lake Chad basin.

Supporting the country’s rapid transition to democratic and constitutional rule must be a priority for regional actors and the international community, Fall said.

He welcomed two extraordinary summits of Heads of State and Government, one focused on the situation in Chad on 4 June, as evidence leaders are determined on a regional response to the sub-region’s ongoing crises.

Spotlighting the recent appointment by the AU of a high representative for transition in Chad and a new special representative in the country, Fall said the UN will prioritise support to critical regional efforts.

Non-State armed groups including Boko Haram, Islamic State West Africa Province and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) continue to pose threats to peace and stability across the region.

Describing “horrendous” impacts on civilians, Fall said violence in north-west and south-west Cameroo worsened, leading to human rights violations and further suffering. The situation is compounded by aggravated impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Maritime crime in the Gulf of Guinea remains a serious threat, with more incidents recorded in Central Africa’s maritime region in the first quarter of 2021 than in the broader West African region.

Fall said that central Africa’s mounting security concerns must not be allowed to reverse electoral progress made in the sub-region in recent years.

Since he last briefed the Security Council in December, elections were held in CAR, Chad, Gabon and Republic of Congo.

A Burundi government convened meeting of the UN Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa late May, saw leaders recommend development of a sub-regional protocol on electoral governance and democratic elections.

“As the sub-region prepares for elections I encourage national authorities and political stakeholders to promote continued dialogue and consensus,” Fall said pointing to elections in Sao Tome and Principe on 18 July as an opportunity.