Central African Republic: Epicentre of Crisis and Insurgency

Alao Abiodun
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The bad behaviour of governments is often at the heart of why conflicts begin and persist — Central Africa Republic is no exception. The violence and killings by armed groups is apparently a visible sign of the everyday violence against the poor and disenfranchised in all parts of Central African Republic. However, the country has continuously advertised its weakness and lack of coordination in the fight against terrorism.

Central African Republic has been in pandemonium and turmoil since a violent takeover of power in 2013. The spurious aftermath saw widespread violence as armed militia fought each other and took revenge on the population. The March 2016 election of President Faustin-Archange Touadéra brought an initial lull, but was followed by more fighting in late 2016 and early 2017 between armed groups including ex-Seleka factions and anti-balaka militias – both controlling vast areas of the country.

In late 2012, an umbrella terror group Séléka, predominately Muslim, supported by Chadian and Sudanese foreign fighters, begun to occupy towns in the northern part of CAR. A short-lived peace agreement collapsed in March 2013 and the terror group took control of the capital of CAR, Bangui, ousting President François Bozizé. The sectarian violence and targeted killings, motivated by religion, escalated after the 2013 coup.

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Hundreds have died, tens of thousands have been forced from their homes amid escalating violence between the dozen or so armed groups controlling some 80 percent of the Central African Republic. Attacks are taking on increasingly sectarian overtones. Ex-Seleka factions are now fighting one another — in some cases teaming up with their former opponents. Anti-balaka, frequently referred to as “self-defense” groups.

Violence and insecurity have forced a quarter of the population to flee their homes. Extreme poverty and lack of basic services further exacerbate living conditions. Against this backdrop, humanitarian needs have significantly increased, reaching levels similar to the peak of the crisis in 2014.

Just like many other African countries, ‘Religious identity’ has continued to be one of the most significant predictors of violence in the Central African Republic. Many Muslim communities remain displaced and in the western parts, The Government has initiated some work to ensure renewed interfaith cooperation and address the growing tensions between religious communities. However, without adequate reconciliation efforts, this has not achieved the desired results.

The recent attacks and continuous violence in the Central African Republic has caused a lot of setbacks for the nation due to the religious conflict, which is already deeply rooted and had not yet been adequately addressed. The cycle of political-military uprisings since independence has destabilized and further impoverished the Central African Republic (CAR). Currently, the overall situation in the country remains catastrophic, marked by tensions among Christians, Muslims and animists

Prior to 2012, the political environment in CAR witnessed multiple rebel factions with three main armed opposition groups (the UFDR, APRD and FDPC). Traditionally, the APRD and the FDPC operated from the northwest (bordering Chad and Cameroon) while the UFDR was based in the northeast (on the border with Sudan). Hence, all the major armed opposition groups were essentially from the north of CAR and were mostly Muslims. Between 2007 and 2012, many peace agreements were signed between these opposition groups and the government.

On 13 April 2007, a peace agreement between the government and the UFDR was signed in Birao. The agreement provided for an amnesty for the UFDR, its recognition as a political party, and the integration of its fighters into the army. Further negotiations resulted in an Libreville Global Peace Accord agreement in 2008 for reconciliation, a unity government, and local elections in 2009 and parliamentary and presidential elections in 2010. The new unity government that resulted was formed in January 2009. On 12 July 2008, with the waning of the Central African Republic Bush War, the larger overlapping regional economic community to CEMAC called the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) replaced FOMUC, whose mandate was largely restricted to security, with the Central African Peacebuilding Mission (MICOPAX), who had a broader peace building mandate.

As of 2017, there are more than 1.1 million displaced people in a country of about 5 million people, the highest ever recorded in the country, with about half a million refugees outside CAR and about 600,000 internally displaced. Cameroon hosted the most refugees, more than 135,000, about 90% of whom are Fulani, even though they constituted 6% of CAR’s population

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