- Politics and Social Issues
The Central African Republic Conflict
How it all began!
In December 2012 the Central African Republic, a land-locked nation in Central Africa, was plunged into a civil war conflict, in which government forces have been fighting rebel forces known as the Seleka rebel coalition. The ongoing conflict has caused more than one thousand deaths, has internally displaced more than 200,000 people and created a refugee crisis of immense proportions. The conflict began after rebels accused the government of president Francois Bozize of failing to abide peace treaties signed in 2007 and 2011 regarding the end of the previous internal conflict known as the Central African Republic Bush War, which raged between rebels and government forces from 2004 until 2007. Since then the conflict has never truly ceased regardless of multiple ceasefire, new peace agreements and the involvement on the United Nations, the European union and sovereign nations such as France and Belgium.
A Map of the Conflict
The land-locked nation is home to about 5 million people and was declared independent from France in 1960. Although very rich in natural resources, such as diamonds, timber, gold and oil, the country remains one of the poorest countries worldwide with a median age of on average 19 years and an average life expectancy of 51 years. It has an extremely high birth rate, a nearly non-existent healthcare system and approximately 5 percent of the population is infected with AIDs.
The Initial Conflict
After the outbreak of the Bush War in 2004 much of the societal structure of the country broke down and has since not had the chance to revive itself. The early attacks by the rebel forces in late 2011 and early 2012 led to the death of a few civilians and one policemen. The largest rebel offensive started in December 2012 and lasted until late March when the Seleka rebel forces reached Bozize’s presidential palace in Bangui. The offensive began in Northern and North-eastern CAR through the cities of N’Dele, Ouadda, Bria and Kabo and slowly progressed south to the capital. By the end of December more than 1000 people had lost their lives in the conflict, of which approximately 100 children. At the same time, many foreign government had begun to get involved and started to deploy troops - 400 Chadian, 120 each from Gabon, The Republic of Congo and Cameroon, 760 from Angola, 600 from France and 400 from South Africa. The deployment of international troops put pressure on both sides of the conflict leading to a ceasefire agreement after attacks on radio stations. The ceasefire agreement, signed on January 11th, President Bozize was to remain in power, but a new Seleka prime minister was to be appointed. However, only 12 days later, the ceasefire was violated by both sides as many of the agreed terms had not been fulfilled. By March 2013, the rebels had entered the outskirts of the capital Bangui. On March 25th Michel Djotodia, the Seleka leader, appointed himself leader and dissolved the government and national assembly and suspended the constitution, claiming the start of a three year transitionary period. Despite a comparatively successful transitionary period, the conflict still continues today. The transitionary government resigned in January 2014 and the mayor of Bangui, Samba-Panza was elected as interim president. The conflict, however, did not subside, but transform into a sectarian conflict between muslims and christian.
The Death Toll is ever-rising
The transformation of the conflict has, however, led to increased international awareness and involvement. As the conflict has drawn people of both Christian and Muslim faith, the United Nations and the entire international community fear the possibility of a genocide happening. Since the beginning of the conflict more than 5000 people have died, with 70% of that in the last 12 months of the conflict. Although the Central African Republic being a predominantly Muslim nation, both Christians and Muslims have been persecuted in the duration of the conflict and both churches and mosques have been burned, looted and the people seeking refuge within murdered. Many volunteers and workers of non-governmental organizations have also been killed, most recently three members of Doctors without Borders were found dead, leading to the withdrawal of the organization.
The Reaction of the International Community
The EU deployed the EUFOR RCA, a task force under French leadership with the task of providing support in achieving environment for peace talks in Bangui. In May 2014, the United Nations Security Council allowed for the organization and deployment of a UN force numbering around 12,000 peacekeepers and advisors, but has yet to be deployed in September. In July another ceasefire was signed in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, yet only a day later the agreement was rejected by Seleka’s mil it
ary leaders, who shortly afterwards called for the split of the Central African Republic into independent muslim and christian states. No progress in this matter has been made and, despite the presence of more than 8,000 French and Afircan troops the killings have not been stopped, the most recent larger attack was on villages in Mbres where more than 40 people were killed by Seleka fighters in late August.