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.
Fighting escalated between armed groups and between ethnic communities in Birao in north east and in Bria in east leaving several dozen dead; violence could intensify further in Feb. In far north east, armed group Popular Front for the Central African Renaissance (FPRC), whose two main leaders are ethnic Runga, continued to advance on Birao, capital of Vakaga prefecture, held by ethnic Kara rebel group Movement of Central African Liberators for Justice (MLCJ). FPRC 16 Jan kidnapped MLCJ commander and killed his two bodyguards near Birao. MLCJ next day began violent campaign against ethnic Runga and Sara civilians, destroying hundreds of homes in Birao and surrounding villages. Clashes between FPRC and MLCJ near Birao reportedly left at least twenty dead 19-21 Jan. In east, FPRC killed suspected member of anti-balaka self-defence group near Bria 9 Jan prompting anti-balaka to kill two ethnic Sara. FPRC infighting erupted in Bria 24 Jan between ethnic Runga on one side and Kara and Gula on other leading to nearly 50 deaths according to local authorities. In north west, anti-balaka combatants 23 Jan killed Fulani civilian, sparking clashes later that day in Batangafo between anti-balaka and members of armed group Central African Patriotic Movement (MPC), reportedly leaving eight dead. In centre, clashes in Alindao 9 Jan between army and armed group Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC) left three soldiers and eleven UPC dead. FPRC, UPC and MPC 13 Jan jointly denounced govt’s delayed implementation of Feb peace deal and called for talks. In capital Bangui, former transitional President Michel Djotodia 10 Jan returned from six-year exile and next day President Touadéra granted him audience to welcome him back. Touadéra 21 Jan finally met former President Bozizé, who returned from exile clandestinely mid-Dec but remains under national arrest warrant. UN Security Council 31 Jan eased arms embargo on CAR.
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.