A new Enough Project report, Seize the Peace: Four Issues to Target Now in the CAR Peace Process, details how the prospects for peace in CAR are diminished without sustained international support and action in four key areas:
• Planning for elections scheduled for next year
• Accountability for the perpetrators of atrocities
• Disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) of armed combatants
• Local reconciliation initiatives
Throughout course of the most recent conflict, armed actors from diverse groups have committed widespread atrocities against civilians. Evidence shows that many of these atrocities may amount to grave war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide, and possibly all three. Thousands of people across the country have been killed since the March 2013 Séléka coup, and the Associated Press estimates that more than 5,000 people have been killed since December 2013.
"The key is to start these efforts not tomorrow, not in a month, not in a year, but right now.” –Jacinth Planer, Enough Project Editor/Researcher and co-author of the report
CAR has made some real progress in recent months. The nation appointed a new transitional government, started a peace process, and saw the signing of a cessation of hostilities agreement.
However, during a visit to CAR in July, the Enough Project found that the relentless violence from various armed groups, combined with a lack of focus on and resources for each of these four areas, has led to a policy drift that could threaten recent achievements and make peace harder to attain. The paper makes six recommendations for the U.S. government and the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), the international peacekeeping operation focused on civilian protection which is set to deploy this week.
If strategies for free and fair elections, justice for atrocities, local reconciliation, and a viable disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration plan are not addressed and supported soon by the government and international actors, the fragile, limited progress achieved in recent months risks derailment.
Photo: Several hundred protesting merchants, one holding a placard using the french acronym of the country's name, hold a demonstration calling for peace as negotiators prepare for talks with rebels from the north, in downtown Bangui, Central African Republic Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)