Central African Republic (CAR), Central Africa
The Central Africa Republic, nicknamed CAR, has been unstable since 2004. The Civil War has endangered millions of lives and is still untamed. The gravity of the situation is severe, resulting in 1.1million forceful migrations to Cameroon and neighbouring countries. The main cause of the fighting is religious identities between Muslim Séléka fighters and Christian anti-balaka. Similarly, ethnic differences among ex-Séléka factions are counted as a cause. In the same vein, the ancient antagonism between agriculturalists, who largely comprise anti-balaka, and nomadic groups, who constitute most Séléka fighters is also an unavoidable component. After the first Bush War in 2004, then-President François Bozizé maintained a strong opposition against rebels until the Birao peace agreement was signed in 2007. However, in late 2012, rebel leader Michel Djotodia announced his presidency, forcing Bozizé to flee the country. This declaration, he claimed, was because Bozizé’s government had failed to respect the terms of the peace agreement and the northerners have been experiencing severe political abuses such as “torture and illegal executions”. During his leadership, he captured several towns and seized the capital Bangui in March 2013. Barely 2 years later in 2014, Djotodia resigned after disbanding the Séléka coalition in 2013. Despite the ceasefire agreement signed by ex-Séléka factions and anti-balaka representatives, the conflict persisted under the leadership of Catherine Samba-Panza. Seven years of ongoing conflict have left millions displaced within the country. The second to last country on the human development index and the most food-insecure country in the world is still experiencing deadly but sporadic fighting over resources and most of the diamond-rich country remains beyond government control. Peace Accords signed in 2014, 2015, and 2017 have been unable to prevent violent conflict.
Seventy per cent of health services are provided by humanitarian organizations and over 2.5 million people, half of the population, need health assistance. One in four Central Africans walks for over an hour to reach the nearest clinic and for many, the bills for consultations and medications are unaffordable. Only one in three Central Africans has access to clean water and for many, soap is a luxury good. Access to water and sanitation is particularly problematic at the many sites where 194,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) live, often in crowded makeshift shelters where physical distancing is not practicable.
Government forces and foreign allies faced renewed international scrutiny over alleged abuses while tensions persisted between government and opposition in August 2021.
Total population of CAR: 4.6 million (2018)
Active militants:Seleka fighters, CAR Army, UN Peacekeepers, Anti-Balaka
Migrated population: More than 1.5 Million (Aljazeera reports)
Displacement in May: Multisectoral emergency response reached 2,000 internally displaced people at the PK3 site in Bria, where a fire destroyed their homes. In Bossangoa, thousands of displaced people return home in uncertainty.
Refugees: 110,800 (1 August 2013)
People with acute needs: 1.9 million
The Key Actors
President Faustin-Archange Touadera is 63 years old and was elected into power in February 2016. Since then and till now, he is still struggling to tame the stem of vicious intercommunal violence in the poor, landlocked nation where armed groups control two-thirds of the territory. Touadera is the head of the United Hearts Movement (MCU) party. He is supported by the UN peacekeeping operation with more than 13,000 troops and police. He recently announced his candidacy to run for another term in the December 2020 elections).
Classification: Humanitarian crisis
8 million Central Africans – more than half of the population – will need humanitarian assistance and protection.
In 2021, 2.8 million Central Africans – 57 per cent of the population estimated at 4.9 million – will need humanitarian assistance and protection.
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Similar Humanitarian Crises
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Timeline of the crisis
The Seleka, a rebel coalition has drawn largely from the Muslim minority, toppled President Bozize, plunging the majority-Christian CAR into a spiral of violence to date.
Djotodia was confirmed as president in what became considered as “a form of surrender” with everyone expecting stability and improvements.
This new government included nine members of Séléka, along with eight representatives of the parties that had opposed Bozizé, while only one member of the government was associated with Bozizé. Civil society representatives occupied 16 positions.
This boycott was by way of a protest dominated by the Séléka arguing that the 16 positions given to representatives of civil society were in fact “handed over to Séléka allies disguised as civil society activists”.
The PM of CAR Nicolas Tiangaye requests peacekeeping forces from the UNSC to assist in CAR.
The indictment also included the crime of inciting a genocide.
In a meeting in Chad, these leaders proposed the formation of an inclusive transitional council and the holding of new elections in 18 months, rather than three years as envisioned by Djotodia.
Confirming his acceptance of the proposals from the leaders, Information Minister Christophe Gazam Betty said that Djotodia could remain in office if he were elected to head the transitional council
The purpose of the transitional council would be to act as a transitional parliament. The council was tasked with electing an interim president to serve during an 18-month transitional period leading to new elections
This council was composed of 105 members. There were no new members after Djotodia was elected as interim President. Regional leaders publicly accepted Djotodia’s transitional leadership but refused to be called President of the Republic, but Head of State of the Transition. This meant Djotodia would not stand as a candidate for President in the election that would conclude the transition.
This had a little actual effect in stopping abuses by the militia soldiers who were now referred to as Ex-seleka. Self-defense militias called Anti-Balaka, previously formed to fight crime on a local level, had organized into militias against abuses by Seleka soldiers.
This attack which was called “A Day That Will Define Central African Republic” led to the killing of more than 1,000 civilians. Djotodia was not overthrown.
This transfer meant the peacekeeping mission, the International Support Mission in the Central Africa Republic (MISCA or AFISM-CAR), had troop numbers increasing from 2,000 to 6,000. They were combined with the French peacekeeping mission called Operation Sangaris.
Though the expectation was that if they resigned the fragile country would be settled, the conflict still continues.
The National Transitional Council later elected the new interim president of the Central Africa Republic after Nguendet became the acting chief of state. Nguendet, being the president of the provisional parliament and viewed as being close to Djotodia, did not run for the election under diplomatic pressure.
Catherine used to be the mayor of Banguiin. She was elected in the second round of voting. Samba-Panza was viewed as having been neutral and away from clan clashes. Her arrival to the presidency was generally accepted by both the ex-Séléka and the anti-balaka sides. She requested all warring parties to put their weapons away.
This escorting was aimed at restoring peace and stability once again to the capital city. The aftermath of Djotodia’s presidency was said to be without law, functioning police, and courts.
In the days after the election of the interim president, anti-Muslim pogroms and looting of Muslim neighborhoods continued in Bangui, including the lynching of the Muslim former Health Minister Dr. Joseph Kalite by Christian self-defense groups. Accounts state of lynch mobs, including that of uniformed soldiers, stoning or hacking Muslims then dismembering and burning their bodies in the streets.
A peace agreement was signed between the government and 14 armed groups, which often claim to defend the interests of specific communities or religions.
The CAR provides a good illustration of the complex relationship between ECCAS and the AU, as well as potential lessons for how they could better work together.
New fighting between rival armed groups has left at least 23 people dead and scores wounded, according to the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the country (MINUSCA). This combat beside the Sudanese border was between
the Popular Front for the Renaissance of the Central African Republic and the Movement of Central African Freedom Fighters for Justice in Birao.
Since mid-October, more than 28,000 people in the Central African Republic have been displaced by heavy rains and the overflowing of Ubangi River.
The government since 6 years ago visited the notorious neighbourhood in Bangui (PK5) and declared it a weapons-free zone. This came recently after days of fighting between a militia and local traders.
Former rebel leader turned adviser to the new government has been issued a travel ban and an order for his assets to be frozen. This is because UN expert reports mentioned he is recruiting fighters.
Humanitarian organizations insist on continuing violence and last year’s devastating floods have forced more thousands of people from their homes.
They proclaimed that their objective is to ensure a free, fair, inclusive and timely election. The coalition includes the parties Union pour le renouveau centrafricain of the former Prime Minister, Anicet-Georges Dologuélé; the Kwa Na Kwa of the former President, François Bozizé; the Convention républicaine pour le progrès social of the former Prime Minister, Nicolas Tiangaye; the Chemin de l’espérance of the former President of the National Assembly, Karim Meckassoua; and the Be Africa Ti E Kwe of the former Prime Minister, Mahamat Kamoun.
He called for national solidarity, including a 21-day quarantine for people entering the country and any suspected COVID-19 cases and their contacts, a temporary ban on gatherings of more than 15 people, temporary closure of schools and entertainment spaces, and restrictions on entering the country.
These people were arrested on charges of criminal association, undermining State security, and conspiracy. The arrests took place, respectively, at the residence of the Minister of Arts, Culture, and Tourism, Dieudonné Ndomate, head of the Ngaïssona anti-balaka wing, and at an unoccupied residence of Mr. Bozizé.
The public prosecutor of the Bangui Court of Appeal clarified that he had not issued an arrest warrant against Mr. Bozizé as had been rumoured. The Kwa Na Kwa political party denounced the arrests as politically motivated.
It is a signatory from armed groups characterizing the arrests of some as a violation of the Government’s commitments under the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic.
he authorities temporarily restricted commercial and passenger movements on key axes from Bangui to the west and to towns bordering Cameroon and the Ubangi river..
In a statement from the Communication Minister, 51 people have been wounded and more than 25 people have been killed in clashes in the northeast of the country. Fighting between armed groups in Ndele led to the deaths of 21 civilians. An anonymous MUNISCA officer said, “There were about 100 Gulas who entered the town wearing civilian clothes”.
The United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU) supported the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between MINUSCA and MOUACA, which specifies the procedures for deployment, safety and security, and logistical support for activities assigned by the AUPSC. The MoU is considered a milestone achievement, which will bolster UN-AU’s future partnership in the accomplishment of designated mandates in the Central African Republic (CAR).
This political platform is aimed to counterweigh the opposition Coalition de l’opposition démocratique platform. The main intention of the United Hearts platform is to rally behind one candidate for the presidential elections and agree on candidates for the legislative elections. Four political leaders announced their candidacy for the presidential elections, specifically Martin Ziguélé of the Mouvement de libération du peuple Centrafricain; Bornou Brigitte Hortense of the Parti pour le progrès du peuple; Crépin Mboli-Goumba of the Parti africain pour une transformation radicale et l’intégration des Etats; and Aristide Briand Reboas of the Parti chrétien démocratie, which has since joined the “Be Oko” platform.
These laws included the status of military personnel, in accordance with the 2017 national defense plan
The CC and legislators ruled stating in the event of an instance of force majeure that would delay the timely holding of elections, noting that any slippage in the constitutional timelines should derive from broad national consultations and consensus.
The legislative petition sponsored by the ruling coalition to amend the constitution in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, was signed by 101 of 140 parliamentarians. The proposed amendment was aimed at extending the tenures of the president and members of parliament if elections could not be held within constitutional timelines owing to unforeseen circumstances, or force majeure. The CC emphasized that any slippage of the electoral calendar should derive from broad national consultations seeking a consensual solution.
The Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations (MINUSCA), Jean-Pierre Lacroix, and the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smaïl Chergui, engaged with Prime Minister Firmin Ngrébada on the political and peace processes.
These bills included a revised national budget accounting for expenditure related to the COVID-19, the revised treaty of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the statute on the National Electoral Authority.
During a national address on the anniversary of the independence President, Faustin-Archange Touadera, called for national unity and reaffirmed his commitment to holding timely, credible, inclusive, and peaceful elections. He praised the Government and health-care personnel for their efforts in responding to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, despite the opposition’s continued criticism of the Government’s shortcomings in addressing the pandemic.
These meetings were done on the electoral process with opposition parties, former Heads of State and the forces vives, comprising political parties, civil society and religious and other leaders.
The Coalition de l’opposition démocratique 2020 declined to attend a meeting but is accusing President Touadera of imposing rushed and poorly prepared elections.
The National Assembly passed into law a revised electoral code, with exceptional, derogatory provisions, accounting for delays in electoral operations while maintaining constitutional timelines. Despite the recommendations from the consultative framework and advocacy from the United Nations and other partners, the Government did not include in its draft bill provisions that would allow Central African refugees in neighboring countries to participate in the polls as they had during the 2015–2016 electoral cycle. Several parliamentarians from the opposition boycotted the vote.
Messrs. Chergui and Lacroix, together with the Chairperson of the ECCAS Commission, Gilberto Da Piedade Veríssimo, issued a joint call for national stakeholders to engage in political dialogue with a view to achieving consensus and creating conditions conducive to the holding of peaceful, credible, and inclusive elections within constitutional timelines.
If Bozize’s candidacy is validated, he will be a political rival against Touadera in the 29 December upcoming election. This will further complicate the shaky peace already prevalent in CAR.
15 political leaders, including three women, had announced their intention to contest the presidency. Recent announcements included President Touadera of Mouvement des coeurs unis, former President François Bozizé of Kwa Na Kwa, former Head of State Catherine Samba-Panza as an independent, former Prime Minister Anicet Georges Dologuélé of Union pour le renouveau centrafricain, Alexandre Ferdinand Nguendet of Rassemblement pour la République, Éloi Anguimaté of the Convention nationale, Augustin Agou of the Parti de la renaissance et du développement durable and former Prime Minister Mahamat Kamoun of the Be Africa Ti é Kwè party. Some of the opposition candidates voiced strong criticism of the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic, promising to resolve issues with armed groups.
resolution 2499 (2019), the Security Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) until 15 November 2020
The UN is optimistic of a successful election in December 2020 amid a tense political atmosphere. Mankeur Ndiaye stated that, though some regions in CAR remain fragile and some presidential candidates have raised doubts about last year’s peace agreement, this election provides CAR a unique opportunity to leverage what has been achieved democratically and pursue stabilization.
After the inauguration of the UN-backed hybrid tribunal (Special Criminal Court- SCC) in October 2018, many perpetrators of human rights violations have not been persecuted. Though a total of ten cases have been brought to the SCC, the court has refused to disclose the identities of the 21 individuals arrested following its investigations and has not declined to give reasons for their actions.
Morocco, an ally of CAR has reinforced its commitment to stability in CARA by contributing 762 blue helmets UN peacekeepers. In addition, Morocco has shown genuine interest in helping CAR overcome its developmental challenges due to decades of political unrest. Morocco’s Foreign Minister, Nasser Bourita stated that the two countries have signed cooperation agreements in areas of education and health
With the donation of about 10 armored vehicles and the opening of a Defense Ministry representative office, Russia has solidly expanded its influence in CAR. This move by President Vladimir Putin is to revive the soviet-era influence and compete with other superpowers in Africa. In the past, Russia has donated many small arms and trained government soldiers to fight against militia groups.
The peace agreement signed in February 2019 has restored some form of stability in CAR. CAR, a nation on the path of recovery and nation-building has identified trading as an essential pillar in this process. Trade is being used as a tool to tackle the slow growth of the economy and as a catalyst to increase development activities across the country.
CAR’s main supply route connecting the capital Bangui with Cameroon was blocked thus preventing the safe and timely delivery of vital aid. Over 500 trucks with critical UN and partners’ supplies, including food and medicines, have been stuck at the Cameroonian border, along with over 1,100 trucks transporting commercial goods.
Few days before the presidential elections of 27 December in the Central African Republic, armed violence broke out causing thousands of people to flee to neighbouring countries
There were 59 incidents against humanitarian personnel and property, including an aid worker killed and five others injured – almost double the monthly average of incidents recorded in 2020
424 incidents directly affecting humanitarian workers or property were registered compared to 306 in 2019, representing a 39 percent increase
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) provided food assistance to over 10,000 families, the NGOs Médecins d’Afrique (MDA) resumed its nutritional support and Médecins du Monde (MDM) established a presence in Dékoa to support access to health care and psychosocial services and to support survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, including the most vulnerable displaced outside the city.
A new « one-stop center» for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence opened its doors in Bangui, offering an integrated approach to rebuilding lives.
Floods continue to threaten the Central African Republic. A long-term solution remains essential; meanwhile, emergency needs are looming.
The violence and instability is causing more people to move out of their homes. Over 500 people arrived in Batangafo.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reports that 105,000 individuals have fled to neighboring countries, the majority across the southern border to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
There have been continued unpredictable situations in the same precarious way with 66 incidents recorded, the highest ever.
Half of the displaced have returned in recent weeks but over 117,000 people remain displaced inside the country
Humanitarian partners increased cash-based assistance by 48 per cent in 2020 compared to the previous year. Humanitarian partners plan to assist 1.84 million people, for what they will require US$ 444.7 million.
In Batangafo in the north-western Ouham Prefecture, where 30,000 internally displaced people had been living at sites before the current crisis
The opposition criticized President Touadéra for his late-July appointment of four government ministers as members of the committee tasked with setting up and running long-delayed political dialogue.
Yearly World Bank report released warned CAR would enter an economic recession in 2021 due to COVID-19 and post-electoral crises.
Rwanda seconded 300 soldiers to the UN peacekeeping force (MINUSCA) to help secure a supply road between capital Bangui and Béloko town at the border with Cameroon; additional 450 Rwandan soldiers are expected by year’s end.
According to the UN report Congo’s human rights situation is “alarming”. There were 526 incidents from July 2020 to June 2021 including extrajudicial executions, torture and sexual violence. More than half of the recorded incidents blamed the rebel Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC), while armed forces and Russian security personnel were responsible for 46% of recorded violations, including rising attacks on Muslim communities in Feb-June. The Army, along with Russian security personnel, throughout the month pursued military offensive against CPC, which continued to harass government forces and civilians.
In the Ouham-Pendé prefecture, CPC combatants reportedly killed at least two Russian security personnel near Wouro Dolé village.
Touadéra and Rwandan President Kagame signed four cooperation agreements, including in areas of defence and trade.
The Constitutional court stripped former National Assembly president, now opposition MP, Karim Meckassoua of his parliamentary seat for allegedly exhorting CPC to launch an offensive against the government in Dec 2020.
In Ouaka prefecture, Russian personnel reportedly killed two combatants from Union for Peace in Central Africa (UPC) – which withdrew from CPC in April – in Bokolobo locality.
Rebels attacked Bangui killing one peacekeeper before being repelled by international forces.
Meckassoua reportedly fled to DR Congo ahead of interrogation scheduled for next day.
The army and Russian personnel attacked CPC positions in nearby Koui town. This deadly exchange resulted in the killing of three civilians.
The main opposition coalition COD-2020 criticized the court’s ruling, said Meckassoua should have been allowed to take part in the national dialogue.
CPC rebels killed three peacekeepers in Dekoa and Bakouma.
Challenging The Perceived Intrinsic Value Of Holding Peaceful Presidential Elections In CAR To Rehabilitate Their Instrumental Value For Long-Term Peace-Building
CAR’s elections amid intrastate violence In the Central African Republic (CAR), the presidential race for elections planned for December 27th unfolds against a backdrop of
From what used to be known as a “Heaven of Peace” in the turbulent Central African region, the situation in Cameroon is gradually becoming another
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