In the Central African Republic (CAR), the status quo that followed President Touadéra’s investiture in March 2016 is increasingly fragile. Tensions are rising as negotiations on the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of armed groups – the Gordian knot of the crisis – have reached a stalemate. International partners attending the donor conference for CAR on 17 November in Brussels must do all they can to ward off a further attempt to destabilise or even overthrow the current political leadership.
Violence involving ex-Seleka rebel factions, anti-balaka and Fulani militias continued, in particular in north, centre and east. In NW, ex-Seleka faction Central African Patriotic Movement (MPC) and Revolution and Justice (RJ) militia 4 April captured Ngaoundaye; UN mission (MINUSCA) next day forced them out; MPC 10 April denied involvement. Return, Reclamation and Rehabilitation (3R) Fulani-protection militia reportedly committed abuses against civilians in NW and Cameroon from early April. In centre, ex-Seleka factions Popular Front for the Central African Renaissance (FPRC) and Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC) continued to clash and FPRC and anti-balaka reportedly clashed with Fulani herders near Bria in east. U.S. 12 April imposed financial sanctions on ex-Seleka faction leader Abdoulaye Hissène and anti-balaka leader Maxime Mokom. World Bank 13 April approved $30mn and MINUSCA and govt $15mn funding for Disarmament, Demobilisation, Reinsertion and Repatriation (DDRR) program. DDRR stakeholders including govt, representatives of fourteen armed groups and international partners met 20-21 April in Bangui; armed groups agreed with govt and MINUSCA on pilot project to reintegrate ex-combatants into civilian life or army but FPRC imposed several conditions, including participation in govt. Uganda 12 April said it had begun withdrawing troops who have since 2009 been pursuing rebel group Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in east, planned to complete withdrawal by end May; U.S. 26 April began to withdraw its troops supporting mission. CAR Defence Minister Joseph Yakété 4 April said army would replace Ugandan and U.S. troops in Obo in SE, and deploy in Am Dafhok at border with Sudan under border security agreement with Sudan and Chad, and in Boali, near Bangui.
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.
Sensible, inclusive regulation of pastoralism that has mitigated tension in parts of the Sahel should be extended to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic (CAR), where conflicts have worsened with the southward expansion of pastoralism.
As the Central African Republic (CAR) stares into an abyss of potentially appalling proportions, the international community must focus on the quickest, most decisive means of restoring security to its population.
The collapse of the state and the disappearance of security forces from a large part of the territory may turn the Central African Republic (CAR) into a source of instability in the heart of Africa.
There is a risk that the process of negotiation [in the Central African Republic] around disarmament becomes bogged down and justice, including through the Special Criminal Court, accelerates.
Against the supposed Christian versus Muslim logic of this conflict [in the Central African Republic], we now see Muslim groups fighting Muslim groups, divided on ethnic lines and fighting for territory.
Africa is experiencing the highest number of humanitarian crises since the 1990s. As the new chair of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, takes office, International Crisis Group suggests how he can strengthen the organisation’s response to threats to continental peace and security.
Originally published in Jeune Afrique
As the crisis in the Central African Republic deepens, the country is experiencing increasing instrumentalisation of religion, societal divisions and collective fears. In this video, Crisis Group's Central Africa Project Director Thierry Vircoulon explains how the inter-communal tensions between armed groups in CAR, which straddles the mainly Muslim Sahel and the predominantly Christian central African savannah, is now compounded by an emerging conflict between armed communities.