Central African Republic: A Transition at Risk
Central African Republic: A Transition at Risk
Fixing the army is key for CAR’s stability
Fixing the army is key for CAR’s stability
Open Letter / Africa 3 minutes

Central African Republic: A Transition at Risk

On 26 September 2014, the United Nations Secretary-General convened a high-level meeting on the Central African Republic. The meeting aimed to identify the next steps for the restoration of peace and stability in the country, following the signing of the Brazzaville Cessation of Hostilities agreement on 23 July, the appointment of a new transitional government on 24 August and the transfer of authority from the African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA) to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) on 15 September. The meeting was attended by CAR’s President Catherine Samba-Panza and representatives of the five Permanent Members of the Security Council, regional states, regional organisations and international financial institutions. The International Crisis Group sent the following letter to the participants ahead of the meeting.

Letter to the Participants of the High-Level Meeting on the Central African Republic

26 September 2014


The Central African Republic’s seven-month-old transition is at risk. The country’s leaders and partners meeting in the special high-level event at the UN General Assembly on 26 September 2014 should redouble efforts to put it back on track.

The July Brazzaville summit, which aimed to end CAR’s de-facto partition, has not stopped the fighting. The main armed groups are in disarray, lack clear leadership, seek to expand their areas of control and pursue banditry as much as politics. They should be contained to allow space for the political process. Political elites in Bangui are divided. The government has become weaker, faces growing popular discontent and has been accused of favouritism, with the choice of a new Prime Minister criticised. Despite a display of unanimity, CAR’s neighbours pursue competing and often ambiguous strategies in the country.

The International Crisis Group urges those attending the high-level event to consider the following measures:

1. Develop a strategy to deal with the armed groups, comprising:

The EU mission, EUFOR-RCA, should be extended beyond its current December deadline to mid-2015 to help contain armed groups as the UN mission, MINUSCA, deploys to full strength.
CAR’s government and international partners should pursue simultaneously separate negotiation tracks with key leaders in the armed groups.
UN and EU troops should pressure militia leaders by using the arrest power provided by the urgent temporary measures and by restricting their revenue through investigating and tightening controls over national resource trafficking.
CAR’s government and international partners should define guidelines for a disarmament and reinsertion strategy for combatants, focusing on reintegration as a means of breaking ties between them and commanders. They should begin planning for rebuilding and reforming the security services.

2. Clarify the way forward on the political transition:

President Catherine Samba-Panza should lay out her vision for the transition and a process for discussing it with political elites in Bangui and other constituencies country-wide. She should pledge again not to remain in power beyond the transition.
Elections should be delayed until there is broad consensus on the transition, on a process for discussing necessary reforms and until the basic foundations of political life, including political party and electoral legislation, are in place.
Donors should support the restoration of state services in cities where MINUSCA is deployed, coordinate quickly reconstruction through labour intensive projects and support inter-community peace committees where feasible.

3. Prioritise economic recovery and resource management, essential for CAR’s stabilisation:

  • President Samba-Panza should invite international partners to consider a model of shared management for revenue-generating institutions, along the lines of the GEMAP in Liberia.
  • The transitional authorities and international partners should investigate natural resources trafficking, secure the main mining sites through the deployment of MINUSCA and redeploy state services responsible for managing the legal sales of diamonds. These steps could also pave the way for lifting CAR’s suspension from the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, thus permitting the legal export of diamonds to contribute to the economy.
  • A working group including donors, the CAR economic ministries and private sector should elaborate a one-to-three year strategy for the country’s economic recovery.

Agreement on these steps should be underpinned by an effective multilateral body backed by the region and other major powers. The current G5 international group (UN, African Union, European Union, France and the U.S) should be expanded to include neighbouring countries that bear the brunt of the crisis (Chad, Cameroon and Congo-Brazzaville) and those that can influence parties to the conflict (including Angola and Sudan).

The International Crisis Group believes the measures outlined above would help improve security, advance a political transition and kick-start the economy. Without urgent action by CAR’s leaders, the region and the wider international community, the country is likely to suffer escalating violence, including intercommunal violence, and prospects for a political process or economic recovery will diminish.

Please accept the assurances of my highest consideration,

Jean-Marie Guéhenno
President & CEO

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