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 continued, including against humanitarian workers and facilities. Ex-Seleka faction Central African Patriotic Movement (MPC) 1 July clashed with anti-balaka in Kaga Bandoro, Nana-Gribizi province in north, at least ten people killed; unidentified gunmen same day looted UN Refugee Agency office there, threatening staff. MPC and Revolution and Justice (RJ) militants 9 July took control of Ngaoundaye, Ouaham Pende province in far north west. Two gunmen 11 July entered Médecins Sans Frontières-run hospital in Zemio in south east and opened fire at family, killing baby. Christian and Muslim communities clashed again in Bangassou in south east 22-23 July; anti-balaka local defence forces shot dead one Moroccan peacekeeper 22 July and two Moroccan peacekeepers 25 July when they delivered water to displaced Muslims. Following signing of ceasefire and political agreement 19 June, Catholic community Sant’Egidio mid-July visited country in effort to form follow-up committee comprising govt, armed groups, parliament and UN mission (MINUSCA). African Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation in CAR notably comprising African Union, central African regional bloc ECCAS and regional govts 17 July adopted roadmap for peace; African Union said roadmap only reference for peace process.
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.