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

Political tensions rose over arrest of opposition leader; army clashed with rebels in north east while self-defence group resisted disarmament.   

Opposition faced further govt crackdown ahead of 2025 elections. Police 3 March arrested Crépin Mboli-Goumba – lawyer and key figure in opposition coalition Republican Bloc for the Defence of the Constitution (BRDC) – at airport of capital Bangui and detained him for 72 hours on charges of contempt of court over his Feb accusations of judiciary corruption. After BRDC condemned arrest and lawyers called for court boycott, security forces 6 March released Mboli-Goumba pending trial; court 27 March sentenced him to one-year suspended prison sentence and fine; arrest raised further concerns over govt’s attempts to limit opposition in lead-up to 2025 presidential elections.

Army clashes with rebels continued in north east. Clash between military and 3R fighters near Yaloké town 4 March killed soldier and civilian, leading to intercommunal unrest in local community with two mosques attacked. Coalition of Patriots for Change rebels 7 March attacked Ndah town, forcing army withdrawal until Russian paramilitary Wagner group intervened with airstrikes. Wagner supported military through increased deployment in north east amid speculation that U.S. private security company Bancroft has presence in region’s rural areas.

Tensions persisted in south east as self-defence militia refused to disarm. After late Feb violent clashes between Unity for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC) rebels and Azandé Ani Kpi Gbé (AAKG) ethnic self-defence militia in several villages in Haut-Mbomou prefecture that caused at least ten casualties, Defence Minister Rameaux Claude Bireaux 5 March visited regional capital Obo to persuade AAKG to disarm; group, however, demanded UPC lay down weapons first. Next day, Wagner mercenaries arrived in Obo and exchange of fire 14 March between AAKG and govt soldiers in city raised concerns over potential escalation of clashes.

In other important developments. Amid deepening of Russian influence, President Touadéra 1 March finished three-day visit to Serbian capital Belgrade, an ally of Moscow, culminating in three cooperation agreements covering diplomacy, defence, and mining. Wagner mercenaries 27 March conducted police checkpoints in Bangui.

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