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.
Armed groups maintained attacks in several areas in attempt to disrupt preparations for general elections scheduled for Dec. Armed group Union for Peace in Central Africa (UPC) leader Ali Darassa 1 Aug disengaged from agreement reached with govt in July, in which he committed to facilitate electoral preparations in areas under his control and initiate disarmament, demobilisation, rehabilitation and reintegration program, and renounce alliance reached in June with other Fulani-dominated armed group Restitution, Reclamation and Rehabilitation (3R). In following days, UPC launched attacks against electoral officials. In Ouaka prefecture in centre, UPC 12 Aug assaulted election registration officers in Ippy town. In Haut-Mbomou prefecture in south east, UPC 16 Aug abducted two election registration officers and seven members of medical team in Mboki town; govt 18 Aug said all hostages had been released; UPC mid-Aug reportedly ambushed and killed trader on Obo-Bambouti axis. 3R also continued to target civilians in charge of electoral preparations. In Ouham-Pendé prefecture in north west, suspected 3R elements 2 Aug ambushed electoral registration officials on Bozoum-Bouar axis; 3R leader Sidiki Abbas 16 Aug ordered cessation of electoral enrolment and departure of electoral officers from Bouar city and Koui area; UN mission (MINUSCA) and armed forces next day reportedly ousted 3R from Koui town. UN Security Council 5 Aug imposed sanctions, including travel ban and asset freeze on Abbas, citing involvement in killing civilians and arms trafficking. In Haute-Kotto prefecture in east, armed group Popular Front for the Central African Renaissance 24-28 Aug reportedly expelled electoral officers from Nzacko and Yalinga towns. Meanwhile, clashes between anti-balaka Ayoloma group and armed forces 2 Aug left six anti-balaka dead in Grimari city, Ouaka prefecture. Armed group Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) carried out wave of kidnappings in Haut-Mbomou prefecture, reportedly killing two hostages and kidnapping seven locals in Birho village 1-2 Aug, and several others in following days; LRA reportedly freed all hostages 10 Aug after 8 Aug meeting with MINUSCA.
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.
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.
In Central African Republic, the conflict between armed groups is now compounded by a conflict between armed communities. The roadmap to end the crisis including elections late 2015 presents only a short-term answer and risks exacerbating existing tensions. The transitional authorities and their international partners must address crucial issues by implementing a comprehensive disarmament policy and reaffirming that Muslims belong within the nation.
Away from the international spotlight, the Central African Republic’s rural areas are turning into fields of violence as war over territory and livestock hits a highly vulnerable population, with effects increasingly felt in neighbouring Cameroon and Chad.
To stabilise the Central African Republic (CAR), the transitional government and its international partners need to prioritise, alongside security, action to fight corruption and trafficking of natural resources, as well as revive the economy.
Sensible, inclusive regulation of pastoralism that has mitigated tension in parts of the Sahel should be extended to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic (CAR), where conflicts have worsened with the southward expansion of pastoralism.
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.
International mobilization [in the Central African Republic] is much, much slower than the deterioration of the situation on the ground.
The main risk [of the escalating violence in Central African Republic] is really to come back to a conflict like it was in 2013, very close to a kind of civil war.
There is a risk that the process of negotiation [in the Central African Republic] around disarmament becomes bogged down and justice, including through the Special Criminal Court, accelerates.
Against the supposed Christian versus Muslim logic of this conflict [in the Central African Republic], we now see Muslim groups fighting Muslim groups, divided on ethnic lines and fighting for territory.
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
Africa is experiencing the highest number of humanitarian crises since the 1990s. As the new chair of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, takes office, International Crisis Group suggests how he can strengthen the organisation’s response to threats to continental peace and security.
En Centrafrique, le statu quo qui a suivi l'investiture du président Touadéra en mars 2016 est déjà remis en cause. Les tensions montent tandis que le blocage est total sur l’accord de désarmement, démobilisation et réinsertion, nœud gordien de la crise centrafricaine. Tout doit être mis en œuvre lors de la conférence des donateurs pour la Centrafrique, qui se déroule le 17 novembre à Bruxelles, pour éviter une nouvelle tentative de déstabilisation, voire un renversement du pouvoir.