Brutal violence and widespread displacement has consumed the Central African Republic since an upsurge of armed conflict last November following months of political instability. Enough Project Field Researcher Kasper Agger spent three weeks in Bangui in February 2014 to identify the interests and funding sources of armed groups along with the role of regional actors with economic and security interests in CAR.
Agger interviewed Séléka and Anti-Balaka fighters, Central African government officials, diamond traders, international diplomats and humanitarian aid workers. In this video he assesses security on the streets of Bangui and the uneasy atmosphere in the Séléka barracks, and the prospects for stability and lasting peace. He finds that what has been framed as religious violence between groups goes deeper, sparked and sustained by economic motives, natural resources, and competition for political power and influence. Revenues from looting, diamonds, and ivory from poached elephants have funded and fueled the violence. Oil interests have exacerbated the conflict. The involvement of neighboring Chad and Sudan, along with France and South Africa, further complicate CAR's security conditions and prospects for peace.
Agger finds that those interviewed all pointed to the same reasons for CAR's instability: lack of leadership and exclusion from the decision-making process. He also finds there are practical solutions: The deployment of mediators to facilitate a bottom-up peace process, greater support for CAR's state institutions, and investigations and accountability related to illicit diamond and ivory trading by criminal networks and armed groups are among several critically important steps the international community can take to bring peace to CAR.
To learn more about the situation in CAR and recommendations to brind an end to the current conflict, read our new report: "Behind the Headlines: Drivers of Violence in the Central African Republic."