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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

Govt forces continued to gain ground against rebels, prompting major armed group to announce withdrawal from coalition. Army, with support from Rwanda and Russia, continued military operation against rebel Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC), notably regaining control of Niem town in Nana-Mambéré prefecture 7 April, strategic commercial hub Kaga-Bandoro in Nana-Gribizi prefecture 10 April, and Kabo town in Ouham prefecture 15 April; some towns had been under rebel control for several years. CPC rebels throughout month continued to ambush security forces, notably killing three soldiers near Birao town, Vakaga prefecture, 16 April; Arab Missiria militia reportedly involved in ambush. In ongoing violence against humanitarian workers, CPC 7 April briefly detained NGO World Vision staff in Bocaranga area, Ouham-Pendé prefecture. UN refugee agency 20 April said violence had displaced over 2,000 people into neighbouring Chad over previous week. CPC member Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation 2 April said its leader Sidiki Abbas had died 25 March from injuries sustained in Nov 2020; govt had previously claimed to have killed him in Dec 2020. Ali Darassa, leader of armed group Union for Peace in Central Africa, 5 April announced withdrawal from CPC, renewed commitment to Feb 2019 peace deal; govt 7 April excluded resuming negotiations with Darassa. Meanwhile, govt 8 April requested National Assembly lift parliamentary immunity of four opposition MPs over alleged links to CPC. Ahead of national dialogue expected first half of May, govt 19 April launched consultation process with opposition in capital Bangui; main opposition coalition COD-2020 25 April said it would boycott consultations and dialogue, called for inclusive process involving armed groups. Head of UN peacekeeping mission (MINUSCA) Mankeur Ndiaye 5 April discussed situation in CAR with Russian Deputy FM Mikhail Bogdanov, after UN experts late March alleged “grave human rights abuses” by Russian paramilitaries, raising questions over MINUSCA’s failure to prevent abuses. Thousands, mostly ruling-party supporters, 15 April protested in Bangui after Ndiaye 9 April said solution to conflict was not military and called for dialogue.
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Reports & Briefings

In The News

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, Central Africa
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
21 Aug 2018
Russia is intensifying its relationships in Africa and [the Central African Republic] is one of their entry points. The government is weak so it’s an easy target. Financial Times

Thierry Vircoulon

Former Senior Consultant, Central Africa

Latest Updates

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
Commentary / Africa

Central African Republic: Getting from Talks to Peace

The deadly threat posed by armed groups in the Central African Republic has led to severe displacement and food insecurity. In this excerpt from our Watch List 2019 for European policymakers, Crisis Group urges the EU to support multi-level mediation by the African Union and to back local peace initiatives.

Also available in Français
Op-Ed / Africa

In the Central African Republic, Peace Requires More Than a Bigger U.N. Force

The U.N. Security Coucil approved a resolution to extend the mandate of the U.N. Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) until 15 November 2018, also increasing the mission’s troop ceiling by 900. Richard Moncrieff, Project Director for Central Africa, states that the Central African Republic needs more than just troops to meet the country's security challenges.

Originally published in World Politics Review

Report / Africa

Avoiding the Worst in Central African Republic

Resurgent armed groups in Central African Republic are killing many civilians and causing widespread displacement. Government forces and the UN are in a weak position, and there are no quick solutions. To contain the violence, the government and international actors must agree on a roadmap for peace with armed groups that combines both incentives and coercive measures. 

Also available in Français