Central African Republic: Priorities of the Transition
Central African Republic: Priorities of the Transition
Table of Contents
  1. Executive Summary
Fixing the army is key for CAR’s stability
Fixing the army is key for CAR’s stability
Report / Africa 2 minutes

Central African Republic: Priorities of the Transition

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.

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Executive Summary

The coup by the Seleka rebel coalition in March 2013 that ended François Bozizé’s decade-old rule plunged the Central African Republic into a new and dangerous crisis. In response, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and other partners of the Central African Republic (CAR) offered an all-too-common compromise: a de facto recognition of the new power and a transition framework under international supervision. However, uncertainty remains due to the absence of the state, Seleka’s fragility and tensions between Christians and Muslims. To avoid having an ungovernable territory in the heart of Africa, the new government of national unity must quickly adopt emergency security, humanitarian, political and economic measures to restore security and revive the economy. For their part, international partners must replace their “wait-and-see” policy with more robust political and financial engagement to supervise and support the transition.

Seleka’s swift offensive in December 2012 brought the rebellion to the door-step of the capital, Bangui. The intervention by Chad and ECCAS’s Mission for the Consolidation of Peace in CAR (MICOPAX) forced them to stop and negotiate with the Bozizé government. The 11 January 2013 Libreville Agreement, imposed by ECCAS, temporarily prevented a coup and initiated a three-year power-sharing arrangement. However, this transition plan failed due to Bozizé’s refusal to engage in a concerted and peaceful transition; failure by ECCAS to monitor the agreement; and Seleka’s tactical advantage on the ground. Eventually, the Seleka took over Bangui on 24 March during an attack that claimed the lives of several South African soldiers.

The new government of national unity is fragile and faces considerable challenges. Securing the country, organising elections, restoring public services and implementing judicial, economic and social reforms, were agreed to in Libreville and remain on the agenda. But dissension within Seleka, the proliferation of weapons in Bangui and the deterioration of the social environment could jeopardise the very fragile transition. The humanitarian situation is deteriorating: the population is suffering from deprivation, which will be compounded by the rainy season, and there are some 150,000-180,000 internally displaced people. Faced with multiple problems, the new government will have to define security, humanitarian, budgetary and political priorities. To secure the peace and stability that previous governments failed to achieve, it must develop a new disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) program and rethink security sector reform (SSR). Restoring security and promoting innovative approaches tailored to the country’s needs are key to ensuring the success of the transition.

To overcome these challenges, the government will need two types of assistance: funding and experts from donors for three important initiatives – DDR, SSR and the management of reconstruction funds; and political and military support from ECCAS. With the help of the UN and France, the regional organisation should ensure rigorous monitoring of the Libreville Agreement and the decisions taken at its April 2013 heads of state summit in N’Djamena. It should also act as a mediator to mitigate political and military tensions that may arise. Should the transition fail, it will be impossible to govern the country and this will create a “grey zone” at the heart of the continent. CAR is already a haven for various armed groups; combatants from the Lord’s Resistance Army have been present in the south east of the country since 2008 and the Vakaga region is a transit route for poachers and traffickers from neighbouring countries, including Sudan. State collapse could pave the way for new criminal networks to establish themselves in the country and further undermine regional stability.

To prevent the country’s further decline, international partners must go beyond their “wait-and-see” attitude and mixed commitments that have too often characterised international supervision of political transitions.

Nairobi/Brussels, 11 June 2013

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