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Homepage > Regions / Countries > Africa > Central Africa > Central African Republic > Central African Republic: Priorities of the Transition

Central African Republic: Priorities of the Transition

Africa Report N°203 11 Jun 2013


The coup by the Seleka rebel coalition in March 2013 that ended François Bozizé’s decade-old rule plunged the Central African Republic into a new and dangerous crisis. In response, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and other partners of the Central African Republic (CAR) offered an all-too-common compromise: a de facto recognition of the new power and a transition framework under international supervision. However, uncertainty remains due to the absence of the state, Seleka’s fragility and tensions between Christians and Muslims. To avoid having an ungovernable territory in the heart of Africa, the new government of national unity must quickly adopt emergency security, humanitarian, political and economic measures to restore security and revive the economy. For their part, international partners must replace their “wait-and-see” policy with more robust political and financial engagement to supervise and support the transition.

Seleka’s swift offensive in December 2012 brought the rebellion to the doorstep of the capital, Bangui. The intervention by Chad and ECCAS’s Mission for the Consolidation of Peace in CAR (Micopax) forced them to stop and negotiate with the Bozizé government. The 11 January 2013 Libreville Agreement, imposed by ECCAS, temporarily prevented a coup and initiated a three-year power-sharing arrangement. However, this transition plan failed due to Bozizé’s refusal to engage in a concerted and peaceful transition; failure by ECCAS to monitor the agreement; and Seleka’s tactical advantage on the ground. Eventually, the Seleka took over Bangui on 24 March during an attack that claimed the lives of several South African soldiers.

The new government of national unity is fragile and faces considerable challenges. Securing the country, organising elections, restoring public services and implementing judicial, economic and social reforms, were agreed to in Libreville and remain on the agenda. But dissension within Seleka, the proliferation of weapons in Bangui and the deterioration of the social environment could jeopardise the very fragile transition. The humanitarian situation is deteriorating: the population is suffering from deprivation, which will be compounded by the rainy season, and there are some 150,000-180,000 internally displaced people. Faced with multiple problems, the new government will have to define security, humanitarian, budgetary and political priorities. To secure the peace and stability that previous governments failed to achieve, it must develop a new disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) program and rethink security sector reform (SSR). Restoring security and promoting innovative approaches tailored to the country’s needs are key to ensuring the success of the transition.

To overcome these challenges, the government will need two types of assistance: funding and experts from donors for three important initiatives – DDR, SSR and the management of reconstruction funds; and political and military support from ECCAS. With the help of the UN and France, the regional organisation should ensure rigorous monitoring of the Libreville Agreement and the decisions taken at its April 2013 heads of state summit in Ndjamena. It should also act as a mediator to mitigate political and military tensions that may arise. Should the transition fail, it will be impossible to govern the country and this will create a “grey zone” at the heart of the continent. CAR is already a haven for various armed groups; combatants from the Lord’s Resistance Army have been present in the south east of the country since 2008 and the Vakaga region is a transit route for poachers and traffickers from neighbouring countries, including Sudan. State collapse could pave the way for new criminal networks to establish themselves in the country and further undermine regional stability.

To prevent the country’s further decline, international partners must go beyond their “wait-and-see” attitude and mixed commitments that have too often characterised international supervision of political transitions.


To address security emergencies

To the Micopax and France:

1.  Increase security patrols in Bangui.

To the government of CAR, UN, European Union, Micopax and France:

2.  Establish a body of experts from Micopax and the UN, supported by France and funded by the EU, to develop a second generation DDR program emphasising community and economic reintegration of demobilised combatants. Under the prime minister’s authority, the body should report to the transition steering committee on its progress.

3.  Link the reinsertion component of DDR to the implementation of development programs in the north east of the country in order to provide employment opportunities for demobilised combatants.

4.  Establish a body composed of the army chief of staff, security, justice and defence ministers, representatives of civil society and international experts, to design and implement an SSR program that provides for the integration of rebels in the army based on pre-established quotas and clearly defined recruitment standards (ie, skills, education and/or previous experience within the security forces). Under the prime minister’s authority, the body should report to the transition steering committee on its progress.

To address humanitarian emergencies

To non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the UN:

5.  Submit a joint request to Seleka leaders asking for the deployment of trustworthy military commanders in regions identified as high-risk areas.

6.  Create a specific position for a security coordinator for the NGOs working in CAR and lead a security risk assessment mission in each area.

To protect human rights

To the government of CAR:

7.  Ensure the independence of the new joint commission of inquiry by providing it with sufficient resources to lead proper investigations and appointing more individuals with proven experience in defending human rights.

To the government of CAR and the EU:

8.  Support research conducted by the Central African Republic Human Rights League, including through the allocation of EU funds dedicated to human rights.

To the EU:

9.  Launch a consultation process with the CAR authorities, pursuant to Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement, and until this process is finalised, continue to provide financial support to CAR through the European Development Fund (EDF), but only directly to specific programs and not through government channels.

To the International Criminal Court:

10.  Conduct a mission to CAR to ensure that witnesses in the trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba are safe and to send a warning to perpetrators of abuses.

To address economic emergencies

To ECCAS, the African Development Bank, World Bank, International Monetary Fund and EU:

11.  Consult each other on granting emergency budgetary support to enable the government to pay civil servants, resume the provision of basic social services and face the main challenges of the crisis.

To the government of CAR and international donors:

12.  Establish a body composed of members of the government of national unity and international experts, to manage funds dedicated to reconstruction, organisation of elections and other challenges of the transition. The body will manage the special solidarity fund announced at the Brazzaville meeting; undertake a needs assessment mission to determine immediate priorities for assistance and allocate funds accordingly; and assess the implementation of these initiatives. Under the prime minister’s authority, the body should report to the transition steering committee on its progress.

To the government of CAR and the African Development Bank:

13.  Allow the African Development Bank to assess the mining and oil contracts signed by the former regime to determine if these contracts are in accordance with the sector’s standards.

14.  Restore mandatory administrative controls to ensure the integrity of the diamonds supply chain and organise a Kimberley Process review mission in all diamond-producing areas.

To the Kimberley Process

15.  Investigate the diamond smuggling networks in CAR.

To address political emergencies

To the government of CAR:

16.  Prepare for the elections by establishing the Election National Authority and appointing its members.

To the UN:

17.  Send a preliminary electoral mission to CAR to assist in the design of an action plan, a budget and a realistic timetable for the elections.

To the transition steering committee:

18.  Organise a monthly meeting to assess progress on implementation of the Libreville Agreement and decisions taken at the ECCAS summit and discuss adjustments needed; and if necessary, identify, disclose and implement sanctions against those individuals responsible for the lack of progress, including international investigations, targeted international sanctions, exclusion from the political process with the prime minister’s consent, etc.

To the African Union, ECCAS, UN and EU:

19.  Organise a meeting to draw lessons from the management of the CAR crisis and find solutions to the political and military problems that have emerged and ways to improve Africa’s peace and security architecture.

Nairobi/Brussels, 11 June 2013

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