The Central African Republic crisis

Since March 2013, the Central African Republic (CAR) has been experiencing violent sectarian conflict. The conflict initially began between two well-defined rival groups that became increasingly fragmented, with competing agendas and interests. Further, the current transitional government lacks the capacity and political will to enforce any real political reforms.

A number of measures and processes have been put in place in an attempt to stop the fighting, reconcile warring parties and stabilise CAR. At the time of writing, the impact of these measures is limited.

This report examines the internal and external conflict and peace dynamics and aims to identify the risks and potential triggers of violence. It also analyses the Brazzaville Agreement (2014), the Nairobi Agreement (2015), the Bangui Forum on National Reconciliation (2015), the electoral process (2015) and the demobilisation, disarmament and reinsertion (DDR) programme and security reform (2015). It draws on recent literature produced up to the end of January 2016.

Key points are as follows:

  • Sectarian tensions are rife. Despite numerous peace agreements, the anti-balaka’s main agenda continues to be the exclusion of the Muslim population from CAR. Reconciliation needs to remain a priority.
  • High levels of impunity remain a major concern. Lack of accountability for the crimes perpetrated continues to fuel mistrust within the population. Limited political will coupled with an inadequate judicial infrastructure has hampered investigations into atrocities.
  • The collapse of the state and the economy allowed armed and criminal groups to thrive in a climate of lawlessness. Armed groups gained control over the country’s abundant natural resources and profited from their exploitation. The revenues generated sustain their activities and represent a strong incentive to perpetuate the conflict rather than negotiate peace.
  • Former leaders Djotodia and Bozizé and their deputies have formed opportunistic alliances and parallel peace processes in an effort to undermine the stability of the transition.
  • Fragmentation of the armed groups and leadership rivalries have made it difficult to reach a consensus in political negotiations.
  • The timing of the electoral process has involved successive delays: the timing has been dictated predominantly by the international community, which underestimated the scale and complexity of the conflict. External political agendas not always aligned with local needs have influenced the conflict resolution process.

This is the second review published by GSDRC on the situation in the Central African Republic. The first (June 2013) provides a country analysis covering 2003-2013.