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 group attacks hindered electoral preparations in north west, and persisted in centre and south east. Armed group Restitution, Reclamation and Rehabilitation (3R) maintained attacks in Ouham-Pendé prefecture in north west as it continued to disperse across region under pressure from UN mission (MINUSCA) operation launched in June. 3R elements 7 Sept kidnapped two policemen near Bang town after locals 5 Sept arrested two 3R combatants and delivered them to security forces; 8 Sept attacked army convoy on Mokondi-Ouali axis, ensuing clashes left 12 combatants dead and five soldiers injured; next day shot at ambulance on Bocaranga-Bouar axis, causing temporary suspension of humanitarian activities in area; sporadic attacks continued until late Sept. Ahead of 27 Dec general elections, electoral authority 16 Sept said voter registration could not be completed on time in three prefectures, including north-western Ouham-Pendé and Nana-Mambéré, due to ongoing violence. Meanwhile, several armed groups remained active in south east and centre. Armed group Unity for Peace in Central Africa 3 Sept intercepted two NGO trucks and tried to extort passengers in Kemba village, Basse-Kotto prefecture in south east. Anti-balaka and ex-Seleka armed groups 6 Sept clashed in Kouki village, Ouham prefecture in centre, leaving one anti-balaka dead; unidentified individuals next day attacked UN convoy transferring suspect, no casualties reported. Suspected armed group Lord’s Resistance Army 28 Sept reportedly kidnapped around ten civilians in Likhoua village, Haut-Mbomou prefecture in south east. Disarmament, Demobilisation, Rehabilitation and Reintegration program made slow progress in centre and centre-east. President Touadéra’s national security adviser 13 Sept announced demobilisation of 60 combatants in Nana-Gribizi prefecture, including 53 from armed group Patriotic Movement for Central Africa. Demobilisation of several armed group combatants started in Bria, Haute-Kotto prefecture, with 30 combatants from Popular Front for Central African Renaissance demobilised 16 Sept.
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.