Violence in the Central African Republic

Violence in the Central African Republic

Escalation of sectarian violence in the Central African Republic between the Seleka rebels and "anti-balaka" militias, possibly resulting in mass atrocities

 

An insurgency in the Central African Republic (CAR) led by Seleka (or “alliance”)—a coalition of armed, primarily Muslim groups—has resulted in the severe deterioration of the country’s security infrastructure and heightened ethnic tensions, which collectively increase the risk of mass atrocities. Seleka launched an offensive against the CAR government in December 2012, seizing the capital city of Bangui in March 2013. “Anti-balaka” coalitions of Christian fighters formed to carry out reprisal violence against Seleka fighters, displacing tens of thousands of Muslims to Seleka-controlled areas in the north.

The CAR has since seen a surge in human rights violations (including possible war crimes and crimes against humanity), increasing tensions between Christians and Muslims, intra-Seleka fighting, and the arrival of foreign fighters from Chad and Sudan.

The UN Security Council in April 2014 approved a resolution authorizing the deployment of ten thousand peacekeepers to the CAR to bolster the ongoing African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA), authorized last December. The Economic Community of Central African States also helped to establish an eighteen-month roadmap for a peaceful transition to democracy.

In November 2014, the anti-balaka group pledged to lay down its arms to pursue political action. Yet prospects for a successful political transition remain grim: thousands have been killed and over a fourth of the country has been displaced since the outbreak of fighting.

The United States has long supported economic growth, strengthening the rule of law, and political stability in CAR, and it remains concerned about the slow pace of democratization and support of human rights. Further deterioration of the security environment will increase sectarian violence and the risk of mass atrocities committed by soldiers against civilians.

 

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