The democratic election of President Faustin-Archange Touadéra in the December 2015-February 2016 presidential elections offered hope of a new era for the Central African Republic, which has long been troubled by periodic surges in violence. However, the window of opportunity created by the election to implement a successful peace agreement and introduce necessary institutional reform to promote national unity is rapidly diminishing. This report, co-written by Peter Knoope, analyses the conflict in CAR and addresses its dynamics and roots.
Over the last few months, the security situation in CAR has been deteriorating as ex-Séléka and anti-Balaka rebel groups continue to fragment and turn to criminality to sustain themselves. Most notably, fighting around Bambari between the Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (UPC) and the Popular Front for the Renaissance in the Central African Republic (FPRC) has intensified in recent weeks and violence across the region has turned increasingly inter-communal.
Crises in CAR have for decades been mischaracterised, mismanaged, or forgotten by the international community. Today, there exists a closing window of opportunity to build on recent political developments and begin CAR down a road towards national reconciliation. A failure to act will see CAR backslide into widespread violence. Understanding the dynamics and roots of conflict in CAR is a necessary first step on the road to the prevention of violent extremism in the country. It is on the basis of this understanding that effective action must be taken to prevent potential scenarios to develop into reality.