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.
Fighting among ex-Seleka factions escalated in centre and east with further deterioration likely in March. Nourredine Adam’s ex-Seleka faction Popular Front for the Central African Renaissance (FPRC) and allied groups, supported by Sudanese and Chadian mercenaries, 11 Feb launched unsuccessful offensive to retake Bambari (centre) from Ali Darassa’s ex-Seleka faction, Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC). Ex-Seleka factions continued to fight each other around gold mines near Bambari, in Bria (east), Ippy (east) and Kaga Bandoro (centre). UN mission (MINUSCA) helicopter 11 Feb fired on vehicles advancing on Bambari from Ippy after they crossed UN-designated “red line” killing four FPRC fighters including Gen Zoundeko, former Seleka chief of staff; MINUSCA helicopter 26 Feb “dispersed” some 40 FPRC fighters in same area. Following talks with MINUSCA aimed at ending violence, UPC leader Ali Darassa reportedly left Bambari 21 Feb allegedly for Maloum 63km away; in following days Gen Gaëtan of anti-balaka and Gen Tarzan of ex-Seleka faction Patriotic Rally for the Renewal of Central Africa (RPRC) reportedly left Bambari. Country’s main international partners (G5) – UN, AU, EU, Economic Community of Central African States and International Organization of La Francophonie – 19 Feb condemned upsurge of violence in Ouaka and Haute-Kotto prefectures and demanded immediate ceasefire. Govt 15 Feb appointed Toussaint Muntazini Mukimapa from DRC as prosecutor of Special Criminal Court to prosecute those responsible for war crimes since 2003. Defence Minister Yaketé 25 Feb condemned threat by soldiers to mutiny in protest against forced retirement.
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.