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 armed groups including ex-Seleka factions and anti-balaka and Fulani militias escalated in south, east and north west, targeting civilians and UN peacekeepers; fighting left at least 300 dead and 100,000 displaced. In south, ex-Seleka faction Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC) and anti-balaka militants clashed in Alindao 7-9 May, at least 37 civilians killed. Clashes between ex-Seleka Popular Front for the Central African Renaissance (FPRC) and anti-balaka in Nzako 10 May left several dead. Unidentified assailants 8 May ambushed UN mission (MINUSCA) convoy on Rafai-Bangassou axis near Yogofongo in south; one peacekeeper and eight attackers killed, four abducted peacekeepers found dead in following days. Assailants attacked Muslim neighbourhood Tokoyo in Bangassou in south east 12-13 May, killed one UN peacekeeper and 108 civilians. In east, ex-Seleka and anti-balaka clashed in Bria 15 May, killing at least 30 people. In north west, so-called Fulani protection militia Return, Reclamation and Rehabilitation (3R) killed a dozen people in Niem-Yelewa 2 May and occupied town 4-15 May. UN 5 May said five major international aid organisations had recalled personnel to capital Bangui and partly suspended activities until security improves. UN 11 May released $9mn for relief in provinces most affected by recent violence, warned peace process could falter if additional funding not secured. President Touadéra 5 May appointed last five judges needed to establish special criminal court tasked with judging serious human rights violations committed in CAR from 2003.
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.