In a story that gets little media attention, the peace process in the Central African Republic appears to be in disarray. President Francois Bozize, who came to power in a 2003 coup, and two major rebel groups agreed to peace in June, but recent talks to finalize the agreement resulted in rebel groups and opposition parties walking out. The peace agreement was hailed as having the capability to end the seemingly endless conflict in CAR, yet now it looks like it is just another failed attempt to restore order.
The country has gone through 11 attempted coups or mutinies throughout the last decade. Armed bandits and rebels roam the lawless north of the country, raping civilians and looting their homes, recruiting child soldiers, and illegal weapons proliferate throughout the country leaving security in constant limbo.
The deal that was agreed upon in June was an effort to make peace with the Popular Army for Restoration of the Republic and Democracy (APRD), the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR), and the smaller Democratic Front for the Central African People (FDPC). Both rebel groups launched their uprisings after Bozize took power in the 2003 coup.
However, earlier this month, the APRD walked out of talks meant to bring the peace agreement into effect over a disagreement on issues of amnesty for the rebel leaders. The UFDR and FDPC walked out of talks the following day, and a coalition of five opposition parties joined them in exiting as well.
The rebel groups have since stepped up attacks on government forces and the United Nations has said it was “deeply concerned” about the new wave of violence in the northwest of the country. Despite the concern, the often forgotten country in the middle of Africa is nowhere near peace.
–Will Cragin, Emerging Conflicts Coordinator