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Central African Republic

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.

CrisisWatch Central African Republic

Unchanged Situation

Rebels continued deadly attacks outside capital Bangui, govt forces and Russian paramilitary faced more accusations of serious crimes, and intercommunal violence rose in west and centre. Rebel groups launched attacks across country. Notably, Popular Front for the Rebirth of Central African Republic (FPRC) rebel group 1-2 April attacked villages in Bakouma sub-prefecture (Mbomou prefecture, south east), leaving at least five civilians dead; Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) rebel coalition allegedly attacked NGO personnel in Basse-Koto prefecture (east), injuring four 7 April and another two 9 April; and 3R rebel group 16 April and 19 April clashed with govt forces and Wagner paramilitaries in Amada-Gaza sub-prefecture (Mambéré-Kadéï prefecture, east), causing ten deaths among rebels according to local authorities. Meanwhile, Bangui 4 April rejected accusations made by UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet late March of human rights violations, including torture and sexual violence, by security forces and Russian paramilitary Wagner Group, claimed report was meant to tarnish military’s image. Security forces and Wagner personnel 11-12 April reportedly killed over ten civilians in Gordil and Ndah villages (Vakaga prefecture, east); UN mission (MINUSCA) 16 April launched investigation into incident. Video allegedly showing soldiers torturing and executing man which had surfaced on social media in Jan, mid-month prompted outcry among opposition and human rights groups, while govt denounced smearing campaign. Communal violence spiked during month. Notably, herders 2 April attacked Samoh village (Ouham prefecture, centre), reportedly in retaliation for cattle theft, leaving five dead; clashes between Fulani herders (supported by 3R group) and local tradesmen early April left six dead in Gadzi sub-prefecture (Mambéré-Kadéï, south west); and anti-balaka militia attack on Fulani herders 8-10 April reportedly left around ten dead in Zawa village (Nana-Mambéré, west). Political tensions stayed high after March dialogue, as govt supporters continued to call for constitutional revision to allow third presidential term; notably online petition by Héritier Doneng, sports minister’s chief of staff and head of Republican Front movement, 20 April reportedly reached 400,034 signatures. First audience of hybrid Special Criminal Court mandated with adjudicating serious crimes committed in country since 2003, postponed 19 April to 25 April after defence lawyers failed to show up; later delayed to 16 May.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

6 Apr 2022
Some [armed groups in the Central African Republic] currently think that the fight between Russia and Ukraine may distract Russian Wagner forces and allow them to come back in the country. Foreign Policy

Hans De Marie Heungoup

Senior Analyst, Central Africa
26 Jan 2021
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]. Financial Times

Hans De Marie Heungoup

Senior Analyst, Central Africa
25 Jan 2021
[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. The Guardian

Hans De Marie Heungoup

Senior Analyst, Central Africa
19 Jan 2021
Au lieu de réconcilier les Centrafricains, les élections présidentielle et législatives ont, en effet, davantage polarisé le paysage politique et la société centrafricaine. Le Monde

Hans De Marie Heungoup

Senior Analyst, Central Africa
13 Jan 2021
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. Associated Press

Richard Moncrieff

Project Director, Sahel (Interim)
23 Dec 2020
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. Financial Times

Hans De Marie Heungoup

Senior Analyst, Central Africa

Latest Updates

Commentary / Africa

Picking up the Pieces in the Central African Republic

The risk of an entrenched political and security crisis remains high in the Central African Republic following December’s contested elections. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2021 for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the EU and France to press the government and opposition to halt heated rhetoric and nudge the many parties toward talks.

Report / Africa

Réduire les tensions électorales en République centrafricaine

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.

Also available in English
Our Journeys / Africa

In Search of the State in the Central African Republic

A February 2019 agreement is the latest in a string of attempts to bring peace to the Central African Republic. Will it hold? Crisis Group expert Hans de Marie Heungoup goes to the country to find out, along with photographer Julie David de Lossy.

Also available in Français
Report / Africa

Making the Central African Republic’s Latest Peace Agreement Stick

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.

Also available in Français
Commentary / Africa

Eight Priorities for the African Union in 2019

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.

Also available in Français