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.
Fighting continued in provinces, especially in north east between armed groups and ethnic communities, reportedly leaving dozens dead. In north east, ethnic Runga faction of Popular Front for the Central African Renaissance (FPRC) clashed with Gula armed group Patriotic Rally for the Renewal of Central Africa (RPRC) in Ndélé town, Bamingui-Bangoran prefecture 2-11 March, fighting reportedly left around 40 dead including at least twenty civilians. Unidentified armed group ambushed UN mission (MINUSCA) near Ndélé 15 March injuring peacekeeper; MINUSCA reportedly killed two assailants. Violence erupted again in area end month following RPRC attack on Runga-majority village near Ndélé 25 March. In Vakaga prefecture also in north east, ethnic Kara armed group Movement of Central African Liberators for Justice (MLCJ) 3 March clashed with ethnic Sara elements of FPRC, one MLCJ fighter killed. Leader of Fulani-dominated armed group Union for Peace in the Central African Republic 18-19 March convened representatives of ex-Seleka armed groups in Bria, Haute-Kotto prefecture in centre-east; participants 19 March signed agreement to prevent fighting in Vakaga prefecture spilling south into neighbouring Haute-Kotto. In north west, anti-balaka combatants 4 March killed three Fulani herders in clashes in Ngatoua village and another Fulani in Gbakaya village, both in Ouham prefecture. In south west, armed group Return, Restitution and Rehabilitation (3R) 4 March killed two civilians. In centre, suspected anti-balaka 15 March killed UN peacekeeper in Ouaka prefecture. In capital Bangui, authorities 28 March arrested twenty former anti-balaka who had been integrated into national armed forces over fears of potential coup.
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.