On going conflict in the Central African Republic

( Note on how to cite this journal: Author, Date of the post, WMO Conflict Insight, Title of the post,  ISSN: 2628-6998, https://worldmediation.org/conflict-insight )

As the name implies, the Central African Republic (CAR) is in Central Africa. It is bordered by Cameroon, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Sudan. It has a surface area of 622,984km2 and a total population of 5,507,257. The country is rich in diamond, gold and uranium, but has one of the world’s poorest populations (BBC,2014). This country was colonized by France, and later got independence on August 13th 1960 (Crisis Group 2007).Central Africa has been unstable since independence          .However I will be focusing on the most recent ,from 2004 ; a war between Unityof Democratic Forces (UFDR) rebels and the government forces after François Bozize seized the Nation’s presidency in 2003,with military assistance from neighboring countries. A Muslim rebel coalition known as “seleka” (meaning alliance in sango language) attacked different cities in the country in other to overthrow the regime of president Bozize (Fortin,2013). However, there was a tentative ceasefire agreement in 2014 between the seleka rebels and anti-balaka forces, its main opposition group. The conflict resumed in 2015 when the government rejected the cease fire agreement. The United Nations estimates 466000 displaced people who are now refugees in other countries,93500 internally displaced, about 60% women and children,3000-6000 killed and 2.5 million people facing hunger in the country. In the course of this training, I will be devoted to finding out if international mediation is the right solution for the escalating conflict in CAR.

The conflict which has brought untold misery to the population is the most often mistaken for a religious war, making it difficult to tackle the real perpetrators and the complexity of the war. A war which seems to be motivated by foreign powers for personal gains. In as much as members of the seleka armed group are predominantly Muslims, they are not all Muslims and certainly not all Muslims support them, likewise the anti-balaka group which is diverse (crisis Group 2013). Many reasons contributed to the conflict in CAR, amongst which are:

  • The severe under development of the country and the economic repression of the citizens have played a primary role, creating a hopeless environment and future for the citizens.
  • Corruption and inequality in the distribution of the country’s wealth.
  • Historical marginalization of the Muslim minority and the encroachment of desertification from the North has played a negative role on their pastoral lifestyle leading to arms trafficking as an alternative source of income, which favored the seleka uprising and armament.

The Necessity of International Mediation

The crisis was assessed by the director of operations for the United Nations office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs; John Ging. His conclusion was tears provoking, to say the least, a very big and bad situation, warning that CAR “is at risk of spiraling into a genocide”.The world could not be indifferent to these crimes against humanity and it was absolutely necessary for the international community to step in. Several organisations, regional and international became involved in the process of crisis solution, deploying troops and peacekeeping missions to CAR, although a definite solution is still to be met as fighting and human suffering is still going on. However, colonial masters like France has constantly been accused of taking sides in the ongoing peace efforts due to its interest in the country’s natural resources. France under the guise of restoring peace was back to the country in full force. This attitude can best be described as neocolonialism as smuggling of the country’s natural resources became the order of the day (Global Security 2014)

Major Stake Holders and Possible Contributions Towards the Peace Process in CAR

  • Chad: Borders CAR to the North, and on grounds of good neighborliness should be a major stakeholder in the CAR’s peace process. It will help in border control and countering his own rebels who have used CAR as a haven. Its long relationship history with CAR, its considerable military and financial resources could impact the peace process positively.
  • France: Being the colonial master, France has consistently played the godfather role though to its own advantage. However, its role in any peace process in CAR can’t be undermined. She can be instrumental in the disarmament process, promotion of democratic elections by using its financial and technical support given its long relationship history with the country.
  • United Nations System: As a super power, its role in the CAR peace process is imperative. So far, the UN peacekeeping mission in CAR has contributed greatly in securing the nation. Its preoccupation is to disarm, mobilize and reintegrate the rebels, given its military might and financial resources. It can be very effective in coordinating and organizing humanitarian assistance.
  • African Union: Acting as the continent’s umbrella, no effective peace talks can go on in CAR without its input. Financial support might be minimal due to the poor nature of its member countries, but its knowledge of the region and the ability to mobilize help from neighboring countries can’t be minimized in such a peace process.
  • Cameroon and Sudan: Have always been good neighbors to CAR; to the west and east respectively. Most of the CAR refugees are residents in these two countries. Their ability to secure the borders from rebels to cross over and for arms to infiltrate in to CAR is very important in the peace process. To be continued.

References

BBC Country Profile. (2014). Central African Republic. Retrieve from:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13150040

Crisis Group. (2007).Central African Republic: Anatomy of a Phantom State. Retrieved From:
http://www.crisisgroup.org

Crisis Group. (2013). Central African Republic: Better Late than Never. Retrieved from: http://www.crisisgroup.org

Fortin, Katharine. (2013).Timeline: Seleka Alliance. Armed Groups and International Law Organization. http://armedgroupsinternationalaw.org

Global Security. (2014). Central African Republic-Francois Bozize. http://www.globalsecurity.org

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