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

Intercommunal violence escalated as govt allies responded firmly to cost-of-living protests.

Sectarian tensions rose in several regions. Series of incidents highlighted rising intercommunal tensions; rebels from Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation (3R) group 2 April killed over twenty civilians 40km from Bohong town in Ouham-Pendé prefecture (north west). In Ouham prefecture (north), clashes erupted between Christian and Muslim communities in Bossangoa town 5 April following private dispute, highlighting ongoing divisions; in nearby Benzambé village, transhumant herders from West Africa same day killed child, leading villagers to lynch three residents they accused of witchcraft, while relatives of victim attacked and killed Fulani girl with machetes, as tensions remained high throughout month. Meanwhile, in Obo town, Haut-Mbomou prefecture (east) Russian paramilitary Africa Corps, formerly Wagner Group, initiated enlistment and training of fighters from Azandé Ani Kpi Gbé (AAKG) ethnic self-defence militia to confront Fulani-led armed group Unity for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC) rebels; moves heightened risk of further sectarian tensions in region should Azandé fighters target Fulani, and by association Muslim, civilians accused of backing rebels.

Govt supporters responded firmly to protests over cost of living. Crescent Beninga, spokesperson of Civil Society Working Group, 7 April called for peaceful protest against water and electricity shortages, but faced opposition from pro-govt factions; notably, Central African Youth Advisory Council 9 April denounced protest as political manipulation while National Coordination of Central African Students 11 April urged students to boycott march, branding it uncivil and unpatriotic. Around 100 demonstrators 12 April attempted to march in capital Bangui but security forces blocked them; activist Blaise Didatien Kossimatchi same day organised pro-govt counter-demonstration.

In another important international development. President Touadéra met with French counterpart Emmanuel Macron 17 April in France’s capital Paris in bid to ease tensions over govt’s growing ties with Russia; presidents agreed upon “roadmap” for “constructive partnership”.

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