The Central African Republic has been in turmoil since a violent takeover of power in 2013. The aftermath saw armed groups conclude a multitude of peace agreements even as they continued to fight each other and launch attacks on the civilian population. The latest agreement, sponsored by the African Union and signed in February 2019 by the government and fourteen armed groups, raised hopes of peace. The violence has not stopped, however, and political tensions are again on the rise. Through on-the-ground reporting and advocacy, Crisis Group provides concrete advice on how to navigate both the critical electoral period in late 2020 and the long term, focusing on how to persuade armed groups to lay down their weapons.
The Central African Republic is beset with fresh violence days before voting slated for 27 December. If the election is to go forward, and the country to avoid further turmoil, neighbouring heads of state will need to help rival politicians strike a deal.
En République centrafricaine, le bon déroulement des élections de décembre 2020 sera essentiel au maintien de la stabilité du pays. Le gouvernement et l’opposition devraient apaiser les tensions, les partenaires internationaux soutenir un vote crédible et les acteurs régionaux inciter les groupes armés à cesser les violences pendant la période électorale.
A deal to end six years of war in the Central African Republic could come unglued if not strengthened. The government should hold signatory armed groups accountable to criteria for improved behaviour and back local peace initiatives. Neighbours should push armed groups to cease provocations.
Resurgent armed groups in Central African Republic are killing many civilians and causing widespread displacement. Government forces and the UN are in a weak position, and there are no quick solutions. To contain the violence, the government and international actors must agree on a roadmap for peace with armed groups that combines both incentives and coercive measures.
In Central African Republic, the conflict between armed groups is now compounded by a conflict between armed communities. The roadmap to end the crisis including elections late 2015 presents only a short-term answer and risks exacerbating existing tensions. The transitional authorities and their international partners must address crucial issues by implementing a comprehensive disarmament policy and reaffirming that Muslims belong within the nation.
Away from the international spotlight, the Central African Republic’s rural areas are turning into fields of violence as war over territory and livestock hits a highly vulnerable population, with effects increasingly felt in neighbouring Cameroon and Chad.
To stabilise the Central African Republic (CAR), the transitional government and its international partners need to prioritise, alongside security, action to fight corruption and trafficking of natural resources, as well as revive the economy.
One could now say that the government [of the Central African Republic] is no longer on the back foot or the defensive position and has launched an offensive [against the rebels].
[The blockade of Bangui in the Central African Republic was] a deliberate tactic to strangle the capital economically, to force the government to the negotiating table.
Au lieu de réconcilier les Centrafricains, les élections présidentielle et législatives ont, en effet, davantage polarisé le paysage politique et la société centrafricaine.
It seems likely that [the rebels’] intention is to cause trouble and to push the United Nations to defend Bangui, therefore leaving provincial towns vulnerable.
If the elections are not conducted very well, they have the potential to spoil even the very little stability that the [Central Africa Republic] has got.
Russia is intensifying its relationships in Africa and [the Central African Republic] is one of their entry points. The government is weak so it’s an easy target.
In 2019, the African Union faces many challenges, with conflicts old and new simmering across the continent. To help resolve these crises – our annual survey lists seven particularly pressing ones – the regional organisation should also push ahead with institutional reforms.
The deadly threat posed by armed groups in the Central African Republic has led to severe displacement and food insecurity. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2019 for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU to support multi-level mediation by the African Union and to back local peace initiatives.
The U.N. Security Coucil approved a resolution to extend the mandate of the U.N. Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) until 15 November 2018, also increasing the mission’s troop ceiling by 900. Richard Moncrieff, Project Director for Central Africa, states that the Central African Republic needs more than just troops to meet the country's security challenges.
Originally published in World Politics Review