Central African Republic Civil War (2012–present)
||This article is incomplete. (March 2017)|
|Central African Republic Civil War (2012–present)|
Map of battles in the Central African Republic (For a more detailed map of the current military situation, see here)
| Central African Republic
MINUSCA (since 2014)
|Commanders and leaders|
| Noureddine Adam
Joseph Zoundeiko †
Michel Djotodia (2013–14)
| Faustin-Archange Touadéra (Since 2016)
Catherine Samba-Panza (2014–16)
François Bozizé (2012–13)
Jean-Felix Akaga (until 2013)
| Levy Yakete
Patrice Edouard Ngaissona
|3,000 (Séléka claim)
1,000–2,000 (Other estimates)
ECCAS: 3,500+ peacekeepers
Democratic Republic of the Congo: 1,000
African Union: 6,000
|Casualties and losses|
|500+ rebel casualties (Bangui only, South African claim)|| Unknown number killed or captured
1 policeman killed
15 soldiers killed
3 soldiers killed
2 soldiers killed
3 soldiers killed
1 soldier killed
In the Central African Republic Bush War, the government of President François Bozizé fought with rebels until a peace agreement in 2007. The current conflict arose when a new coalition of varied rebel groups, known as Séléka, accused the government of failing to abide by the peace agreements and captured many towns at the end of 2012. The capital was seized by the rebels in March 2013 and Bozizé fled the country, and the rebel leader Michel Djotodia declared himself president. Renewed fighting began between Séléka and militias called anti-balaka. In September 2013, President Djotodia disbanded the Seleka coalition which had lost its unity after taking power and in January 2014, Djotodia resigned and was replaced by Catherine Samba-Panza, but the conflict continued. In July 2014, Exséléka factions and anti-balaka representatives signed a ceasefire agreement in Brazzaville. By the end of 2014, the country was de facto partitioned with the anti-Balaka in the south and west, with most of its Muslims evacuated, and ex-Seleka in the north and east. By 2015, there was little government control outside of the capital, Bangui. The dissolution of Seleka led to ex-Seleka fighters forming new militia that often fight each other. A rebel leader Noureddine Adam declared the autonomous Republic of Logone on 14 December 2015. Peacekeeping largely transitioned from the ECCAS led MICOPAX to the AU led MISCA to the UN led MINUSCA while the French peacekeeping mission was known as Operation Sangaris.
Much of the tension is over religious identity between Muslim Seleka fighters and Christian Anti-balaka as well as over historical antagonism between agriculturalists, who largely comprise Anti-balaka and nomadic groups, who largely comprise Seleka fighters and ethnic differences among Exseleka factions. There are over 400,000 displaced people as of 2017.
- 1 Background
- 2 Course of the conflict
- 2.1 Toppling Bozizé (2012-2013)
- 2.2 Séléka rule and fall of Djotodia (2013-2014)
- 2.3 Exseleka and Antibalaka fighting (2014-2016)
- 2.4 UPC conflict (2016-present)
- 3 Atrocities
- 4 Casualties
- 5 International response
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
The peacekeeping force Multinational Force in the Central African Republic (FOMUC) was formed in October 2002 by the regional economic community, Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC).
After François Bozizé seized power in 2003, the Central African Republic Bush War (2004–2007) began with the rebellion by the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR) in North-Eastern CAR, led by Michel Djotodia. During this conflict, the UFDR rebel forces also fought with several other rebel groups including the Groupe d'action patriotique pour la libération de Centrafrique (GAPLC), the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP), the People's Army for the Restoration of Democracy (APRD), the Movement of Central African Liberators for Justice (MLCJ), and the Front démocratique Centrafricain (FDC). Tens of thousands of people were displaced by the unrest, which continued until 2007, with rebel forces seizing several cities during the conflict.
On 13 April 2007, a peace agreement between the government and the UFDR was signed in Birao. The agreement provided for an amnesty for the UFDR, its recognition as a political party, and the integration of its fighters into the army. Further negotiations resulted in an Libreville Global Peace Accord agreement in 2008 for reconciliation, a unity government, and local elections in 2009 and parliamentary and presidential elections in 2010. The new unity government that resulted was formed in January 2009. On 12 July 2008, with the waning of the Central African Republic Bush War, the larger overlapping regional economic community to CEMAC called the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) replaced FOMUC, whose mandate was largely restricted to security, with the Central African Peacebuilding Mission (MICOPAX), who had a broader peace building mandate.
Rebel groups alleged that Bozizé had not followed the terms of the 2007 agreement, and that there continued to be political abuses, especially in the northern part of the country, such as "torture and illegal executions".
Course of the conflict
Toppling Bozizé (2012-2013)
Formation of Seleka
In August 2012 a peace agreement was signed between the government and the CPJP. On August 20, 2012, an agreement was signed between a dissident faction of the CPJP, led by Colonel Hassan Al Habib calling itself "Fundamental CPJP". and the Patriotic Convention for Saving the Country (CPSK). Al Habib announced that, in protest of the peace agreement, the Fundamental CPJP was launching an offensive dubbed "Operation Charles Massi", in memory of the CPJP founder who was allegedly tortured and murdered by the government and that his group intended to overthrow Bozizé. In September, fundamental CPJ, using the French name alliance CPSK-CPJP took responsibility for attacks on the towns of Sibut, Damara and Dekoa, killing two members of the army. It claimed that it had killed two additional members of the Central African Armed Forces (FACA) in Damara, capturing military and civilian vehicles, weapons including rockets, and communications equipment, and launched unsuccessful assault on a fourth town, Grimari and promised more operations in future. Mahamath Isseine Abdoulaye, president of the pro-government CPJP faction, countered that the CPJP was committed to the peace agreement and the attacks were the work of Chadian rebels, saying this group of "thieves" would never be able to march on Bangui. Al Habib was killed by the FACA on 19 September in Daya, a town north of Dekoa.
On 13 November, two civilians and a police officer traveling to Bangui were shot to death on the road between Sibut and Damara, near the village of Libi on the boundary of the Ombella-M'Poko prefecture. Further east in Obo, a FACA vehicle was attacked with RPGs on the same day. A civilian in the vehicle was killed and an unspecified number of troops injured. The vehicle was destroyed. The attack was attributed to Chadian Popular Front for Recovery rebels.
On 10 December 2012, an armed group seized the towns of N'Délé, Sam Ouandja and Ouadda. Rebels fought with government and allied CPJP troops for over an hour before securing the town of N'Délé. At least five government troops were reportedly killed. At Sam Ouandja, rebels claimed to had captured 22 soldiers and heavy mounted weapons.
On 15 December, rebel forces took Bamingui, a town approximately 120 km (75 mi) from N'Délé in a direct line towards Bangui. Three days later they advanced to Bria, an important diamond mining town lying 200 km (120 mi) southeast of Ouadda. The successful early morning rebel assault on 18 December killed over 15 government soldiers. The alliance for the first time used the name "Seleka" (meaning "union" in the Sango language) with a press release calling itself "Séléka CPSK-CPJP-UFDR" thus including the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR). The Séléka claim they are fighting because of a lack of progress after a peace deal ended the 2004–2007 Central African Republic Bush War. Following an appeal for help from Central African President François Bozizé, the President of Chad, Idriss Déby, pledged to send 2000 troops to help quell the rebellion. The first Chadian troops arrived on 18 December to reinforce the CAR contingent in Kaga Bandoro, in preparation for a counter-attack on N'Délé.
Séléka forces took Kabo on 19 December, a major hub for transport between Chad and CAR, located west and north of the areas previously taken by the rebels. On 18 December 2012, the Chadian group Popular Front for Recovery (FPR) announced their allegiance to the Séléka coalition. On 20 December 2012, a rebel group based in northern CAR, the Democratic Front of the Central African People (FDPC) joined the Seleka coalition. Four days later the rebel coalition took over Bambari, the country's third largest town, followed by Kaga-Bandoro on 25 December. On the same day, President Bozizé met with military advisers in the capital Bangui.
On 26 December, hundreds of protesters angered by the rebel advance surrounded the French embassy in Bangui, hurling stones, burning tires and tearing down the French flag. The demonstrators accused the former colonial power of failing to help the army fight off rebel forces. At least 50 people, including women and children, were sheltering inside the building, protected by a large contingent of around 250 French troops that surrounded the area. A separate, smaller group of protesters chanted slogans outside the US Embassy and threw stones at cars carrying white passengers, according to news reports. A scheduled Air France weekly flight from Paris to Bangui had to turn back "due to the situation in Bangui", a spokeswoman at the company said.
Later in the day rebel forces reached Damara, bypassing the town of Sibut where around 150 Chadian troops are stationed together with CAR troops that withdrew from Kaga-Bandoro. Josué Binoua, the CAR's minister for territorial administration, requested that France intervene in case the rebels, now only 75 km (47 mi) away, manage to reach the capital Bangui. Colonel Djouma Narkoyo, a spokesman for Séléka, called on the army to lay down its weapons, adding that "Bozizé has lost all his legitimacy and does not control the country."
On 27 December, Bozizé asked the international community for assistance, specifically France and the United States, during a speech in the capital Bangui. French President François Hollande rejected the appeal, saying that French troops would only be used to protect French nationals in the CAR, and not to defend Bozizé's government. Reports indicated that the U.S. military was preparing plans to evacuate "several hundred" American citizens, as well as other nationals. General Jean-Felix Akaga, commander of the Economic Community of Central African States' (ECCAS) Multinational Force of Central Africa, said the capital was "fully secured" by the troops from its MICOPAX peacekeeping mission, adding that reinforcements should arrive soon. However, military sources in Gabon and Cameroon denied the report, claiming no decision had been taken regarding the crisis.
Government soldiers launched a counterattack against rebel forces in Bambari on 28 December, leading to heavy clashes, according to a government official. Several witnesses over 60 km (37 mi) away said they could hear detonations and heavy weapons fire for a number of hours. Later, both a rebel leader and a military source confirmed the military attack was repelled and the town remained under rebel control. At least one rebel fighter was killed and three were wounded in the clashes, the military's casualties were unknown.
Meanwhile, the foreign ministers in the ECCAS announced that more troops from the Multinational Force for Central Africa (FOMAC) would be sent to the country to support the 560 members of the MICOPAX mission already present. The announcement was done by Chad's Foreign Minister Moussa Faki after a meeting in the Gabonese capital Libreville. At the same time, ECCAS deputy secretary general Guy-Pierre Garcia confirmed that the rebels and the CAR government had agreed to unconditional talks, with the goal to get to negotiations by 10 January at the latest. In Bangui, the U.S. Air Force evacuated around 40 people from the country, including the American ambassador. The International Committee of the Red Cross also evacuated eight of its foreign workers, though local volunteers and 14 other foreigners remained to help the growing number of displaced people.
Rebel forces took over the town of Sibut without firing a shot on 29 December, as at least 60 vehicles with CAR and Chadian troops retreated to Damara, the last city standing between Séléka and the capital. In Bangui, the government ordered a 7 pm to 5 am curfew and banned the use of motorcycle taxis, fearing they could be used by rebels to infiltrate the city. Residents reported many shop-owners had hired groups of armed men to guard their property in anticipation of possible looting, as thousands were leaving the city in overloaded cars and boats. The French military contingent rose to 400 with the deployment of 150 additional paratroopers sent from Gabon to Bangui M'Poko International Airport. French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault again stressed that the troops were only present to "protect French and European nationals" and not deal with the rebels.
Truce discussions and foreign troops
On 30 December, President Bozizé agreed to a possible national unity government with members of the Séléka coalition, after meeting with African Union chairperson Thomas Yayi Boni. He added that the CAR government was ready to begin peace talks "without condition and without delay". By 1 January reinforcements from FOMAC began to arrive in Damara to support the 400 Chadian troops already stationed there as part of the MICOPAX mission. With rebels closing in on the capital Bangui, a total of 360 soldiers were sent to boost the defenses of Damara – Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 120 each from Gabon, Republic of the Congo and Cameroon, with a Gabonese general in command of the force. In the capital itself, deadly clashes erupted after police killed a young Muslim man suspected of links to Séléka. According to news reports, the man was arrested overnight, and was shot when he tried to escape. Shortly after that clashes began in Bangui's PK5 neighborhood, killing one police officer. Meanwhile, in a new development, the US State Department voiced its concern over the "arrests and disappearances of hundreds of individuals who are members of ethnic groups with ties to the Séléka rebel alliance".
On 2 January 2013, a presidential decree read on state radio announced that President Bozizé was the new head of the defense ministry, taking over from his son, Jean Francis Bozize. In addition, army chief Guillaume Lapo was dismissed due to failure of the CAR military to stop the rebel offensive in December. Meanwhile, rebel spokesman Col. Djouma Narkoyo confirmed that Séléka had stopped their advance and will enter peace talks due to start in Libreville on 8 January, on the precondition that government forces stop arresting members of the Gula tribe. The rebel coalition confirmed it would demand the immediate departure of president Bozize, who had pledged to see out his term until its end in 2016. Jean-Félix Akaga, the Gabonese general in charge of the MICOPAX force sent by the ECCAS, declared that Damara represented a "red line that the rebels cannot cross", and that doing so would be "a declaration of war" against the 10 members of the regional bloc. It was also announced that Angola had contributed to the 760 troops stationed in the CAR, while France had further boosted its military presence in the country to 600 troops, sent to protect French nationals in case it is required.
On 6 January, South African President Jacob Zuma announced the deployment of 400 troops to the CAR to assist the forces already present there. Rebel forces secured two small towns near Bambari as peace talks were scheduled to begin in two days.
Elisabeth Blanche Olofio, a radio journalist for Radio Bé-Oko, was killed by the Séléka coalition, who attacked the station in Bambari and another Radio Kaga in Kaga Bandoro on 7 January 2013. Radio Bé-Oko is part of a larger network of apolitical radio stations operating in the Central African Republic, known as L'Association des Radios Communautaires de Centrafrique. The international press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders said it was concerned that the rebel attacks were taking their toll on the ability of radio stations to operate in the CAR.
On 11 January 2013, a ceasefire agreement was signed in Libreville, Gabon. On 13 January, Bozizé signed a decree that removed Prime Minister Faustin-Archange Touadéra from power, as part of the agreement with the rebel coalition. The rebels dropped their demand for President François Bozizé to resign, but he had to appoint a new prime minister from the opposition by 18 January 2013. On 17 January, Nicolas Tiangaye was appointed Prime Minister.
The terms of the agreement also included that National Assembly of the Central African Republic be dissolved within a week with a year-long coalition government formed in its place and a new legislative election be held within 12 months (with the possibility of postponement). In addition the temporary coalition government had to implement judicial reforms, amalgamate the rebel troops with the Bozizé government's troops in order to establish a new national military, set up the new legislative elections, as well as introduce other social and economic reforms. Furthermore, Bozizé's government was required to free all political prisoners imprisoned during the conflict, and foreign troops must return to their countries of origin. Under the agreement, Séléka rebels were not required to give up the cities they have taken or were then occupying, allegedly as a way to ensure that the Bozizé government would not renege on the agreement.
Bozizé, who was to remain President until new presidential elections in 2016, said the agreement was "... a victory for peace because from now on Central Africans in conflict zones will be finally freed from their suffering."
On 23 January 2013, the ceasefire was broken, with the government blaming Séléka and Séléka blaming the government for allegedly failing to honor the terms of the power-sharing agreement. By 21 March, the rebels had advanced to Bouca, 300 km from the capital Bangui. On 22 March, the fighting reached the town of Damara, 75 km from the capital, with conflicting reports as to which side was in control of the town. Rebels overtook the checkpoint at Damara and advanced toward Bangui, but were stopped with an aerial assault from an attack helicopter.
Fall of Bangui
On 18 March 2013, the rebels kept their five ministers from returning to Bangui following talks about the peace process in the town of Sibut. The rebels demanded the release of political prisoners and the integration of rebel forces into the national army. Séléka also wanted South African soldiers who had been on assignment in Central African Republic to leave the country. Séléka threatened to take up arms again if the demands were not met, giving the government a deadline of 72 hours. Before that the rebels seized control of two towns in the country's southeast, Gambo and Bangassou.
On 22 March 2013, the rebels renewed their offensive. They took control of the towns of Damara and Bossangoa. After Damara fell, fears were widespread in Bangui that the capital too would soon fall, and a sense of panic pervaded the city, with shops and schools closed. Government forces briefly halted the rebel advance by firing on the rebel columns with an attack helicopter, but by 23 March, the rebels shot down the helicopter, entered Bangui, and were "heading for the Presidential Palace," according to Séléka spokesman Nelson Ndjadder. Rebels reportedly managed to push out government soldiers in the neighbourhood surrounding Bozizé's private residence, though the government maintained that Bozizé remained in the Presidential Palace in the centre of the city.
Fighting died down during the night as power and water supplies were cut off. Rebels held the northern suburbs whilst the government retained control of the city centre. A government spokesman insisted that Bozizé remained in power and that the capital was still under government control.
On 24 March, rebels reached the presidential palace in the centre of the capital, where heavy gunfire erupted. The presidential palace and the rest of the capital soon fell to rebel forces and Bozizé fled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. "A presidential adviser said he had crossed the river into DRC on Sunday morning [24 March] as rebel forces headed for the presidential palace." He was later said to have sought temporary refuge in Cameroon, according to that country's government. The United Nations refugee agency received a request from the Congolese government to help move 25 members of Bozizé's family from the border town of Zongo. A spokesman for the president stated that "The rebels control the town; I hope there will not be any reprisals."
Rebel leaders claimed to have told their men to refrain from any theft or reprisals but residents in the capital are said to have engaged in widespread looting. Water and power have been cut to the city. Rebel fighters directed looters towards the houses of army officers but fired their rifles in the air to protect the homes of ordinary citizens.
Thirteen South African soldiers were killed and twenty-seven wounded and one was missing after their base on the outskirts of Bangui was attacked by an armed rebel group of 3,000 rebels, starting an intense firefight between the rebels and the base's 400 South African National Defence Force soldiers that lasted an unspecified amount of time. General Solly Shoke, the Chief of the South African National Defence Force, stated at a press conference on 24 March 2013 that the SANDF soldiers had 'inflicted heavy losses' on the rebels, retained control of their base and forced the rebels into a ceasefire. Shoke also claimed that there are no plans as yet for the South African troops to leave the Central African Republic, although by April 2, only 20 of the original 200 SANDF troops stationed in the CAR remained in the country.
According to the SANDF, its force of about 200 soldiers faced 3000 experienced armed rebels, by the time the rebels proposed a cease-fire they had lost 500 men to the 13 killed and 27 wounded of the SANDF. Séléka general Hassan Ahmat claimed his men killed "at least 36 South African soldiers and captured 46", and lashed out against the SANDF with an accusation of acting as "mercenaries" for Bozizé.
Several peacekeepers from the Central African regional force, including three Chadians, were also killed on 24 March, when a helicopter operated by Bozize's forces attacked them, Chad's presidency said in a statement.
A company of French troops secure Bangui M'Poko International Airport, while a diplomatic source confirmed that Paris had asked for an emergency UN Security Council meeting to discuss the rebel advance. France sent 350 soldiers to ensure the security of its citizens, a senior official told AFP, bringing the total number of French troops in CAR to nearly 600, though a spokesman stated that there are no plans to send further troops to the country. On 26 March French defence ministry said that French troops guarding the airport had accidentally killed two Indian citizens. The soldiers shot at three vehicles approaching the airport after firing warning shots and themselves coming under fire, the statement said. Two Indian nationals and a number of Cameroonians were wounded in the attack.
On 25 March 2013, Séléka leader Michel Djotodia, who served after the January agreement as First Deputy Prime Minister for National Defense, declared himself President. Djotodia said that there would be a three-year transitional period and that Nicolas Tiangaye would continue to serve as Prime Minister. Djotodia promptly suspended the constitution and dissolved the government, as well as the National Assembly. He then reappointed Tiangaye as Prime Minister on 27 March 2013.
Séléka rule and fall of Djotodia (2013-2014)
Following the rebel victory in the capital, small pockets of resistance remained and fought against the new regime. The resistance consisted mostly of youths that received weapons from the former government. Over 100 soldiers loyal to the former government were holed up at a base 60 km from the capital, refusing to surrender their weapons, although talks were underway to allow them to return to their homes. By 27 March, electric power was slowly being restored across the capital and the overall security situation was beginning to improve.
Top military and police officers met with Djotodia and recognized him as President on 28 March 2013, in what was viewed as "a form of surrender".
On 30 March, officials from the Red Cross announced that they had found 78 bodies in the capital Bangui since rebels seized it a week earlier. It was unclear if the casualties were civilians or whether they belonged to one of the factions in the conflict.
A new government headed by Tiangaye, with 34 members, was appointed on 31 March 2013; Djotodia retained the defense portfolio. There were nine members of Séléka in the government, along with eight representatives of the parties that had opposed Bozizé, while only one member of the government was associated with Bozizé. 16 positions were given to representatives of civil society. The former opposition parties were unhappy with the composition of the government; on 1 April, they declared that they would boycott the government to protest its domination by Séléka. They argued that the 16 positions given to representatives of civil society were in fact "handed over to Séléka allies disguised as civil society activists".
On 3 April 2013, African leaders meeting in Chad declared that they did not recognize Djotodia as President; instead, they proposed the formation of an inclusive transitional council and the holding of new elections in 18 months, rather than three years as envisioned by Djotodia. Speaking on 4 April, Information Minister Christophe Gazam Betty said that Djotodia had accepted the proposals of the African leaders; however, he suggested that Djotodia could remain in office if he were elected to head the transitional council. Djotodia accordingly signed a decree on 6 April for the formation of a transitional council that would act as a transitional parliament. The council was tasked with electing an interim president to serve during an 18-month transitional period leading to new elections.
The transitional council, composed of 105 members, met for the first time on 13 April 2013 and immediately elected Djotodia as interim President; there were no other candidates. A few days later, regional leaders publicly accepted Djotodia's transitional leadership, but, in a symbolic show of disapproval, stated that he would "not be called President of the Republic, but Head of State of the Transition". According to the plans for the transition, Djotodia would not stand as a candidate for President in the election that would conclude the transition.
On 13 September 2013, Djotodia formally disbands Seleka, which he had lost effective control of once the coalition had taken power. This had little actual effect in stopping abuses by the militia soldiers who were now referred to as Ex-seleka. Self-defense militias called Antibalaka previously formed to fight crime on a local level, had organized into militias against abuses by Seleka soldiers. On 5 December 2013, called "A Day That Will Define Central African Republic", the antibalaka militias coordinated an attack on Bangui against its Muslim population, killing more than 1,000 civilians, in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow Djotodia.
On 14 May CAR's PM Nicolas Tiangaye requested a UN peacekeeping force from the UN Security Council and on 31 May former President Bozizé was indicted for crimes against humanity and incitement of genocide. On the same day as the December 5th attacks, the UN Security Council authorized the transfer of MICOPAX to the African Union led peacekeeping mission the International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA or AFISM-CAR) with troop numbers increasing from 2,000 to 6,000 as well as for the French peacekeeping mission called Operation Sangaris.
Michel Djotodia and Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye resigned on 10 January 2014. Despite the resignation of Djotodia, conflict still continued. On 19 January, Save the Children reported that in Bouar gunmen fired a rocket-propelled grenade in an attempt to halt a convoy of Muslim refugees trying to flee the violence. The gunmen then attacked them with firearms, machetes and clubs resulting in 22 deaths. The UN had also warned of a possibility of genocide.
The National Transitional Council elected the new interim president of the Central Africa Republic after Nguendet became the acting chief of state. Nguendet, being the president of the provisional parliament and viewed as being close to Djotodia, did not run for the election under diplomatic pressure. The parliament validated the candidatures of 8 people out of 24.
On 20 January 2014, Catherine Samba-Panza, the mayor of Bangui, was elected as the interim president in the second round voting. The election of Samba-Panza was welcomed by Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General. Samba-Panza was viewed as having been neutral and away from clan clashes. Her arrival to the presidency was generally accepted by both the ex-Séléka and the anti-balaka sides. Following the election, Samba-Panza made a speech in the parliament appealing to the ex-Séléka and the anti-balaka for putting down their weapons.
Exseleka and Antibalaka fighting (2014-2016)
The day after the election of the interim President, anti-Muslim violence continued in Bangui, just days after the Muslim former Health Minister Dr. Joseph Kalite was lynched outside the Central Mosque and at least nine other people were killed when attacked when a mob, some of who were from Christian self-defence groups, looted shops in the Muslim-majority Miskine neighbourhood of Bangui.
The European Union then decided to set up its first military operations in six years when foreign ministers approved the sending of up to 1,000 soldiers to the country by the end of February to be based around Bangui. Estonia promised to send soldiers, while Lithuania, Slovenia, Finland, Belgium, Poland and Sweden were considering sending troops; Germany, Italy and Great Britain announced that they would not send soldiers. The move still needed UNSC approval. As of 20 January, the ICRC reported that it had buried about 50 bodies within 48 hours. It also came after a mob killed two people who they accused of being Muslim, then dragged the bodies through the streets and burnt them. Within the previous month, about 1,000 people had died.
In Boali, Muslims sought refuge from sectarian violence at a church, while MISCA troops were present to maintain security. On 27 January, Séléka leaders left Bangui under the escort of Chadian peacekeepers. At the same time, eight people were killed and seven others were wounded by a mob in Bangui. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also said: "The United States is prepared to consider targeted sanctions against those who further destabilise the situation, or pursue their own selfish ends by abetting or encouraging the violence." Two days later, the UN Security Council unanimously voted to approve sending European Union troops and to give them a mandate to use force, as well as threatening sanctions against those responsible for the violence. The E.U. had pledged 500 troops to aid African and French troops already in the country. Specifically the resolution allowed for the use of "all necessary measures" to protect civilians.
On 5 February, following a speech by Samba-Panza had told 4,000 troops and dignitaries at the National School of Magistrates that she had "pride in seeing so many elements of the Central African Republic Forces reunited," uniformed soldiers attacked a civilian youth by stamping on his head, stabbing him and throwing stones at him after accusing him of being an infiltrated Séléka member. His body was then dragged through the streets as MISCA troops looked on; it was then dismembered and burned before the MISCA troops intervened to disperse the crowd with tear gas and firing shots into the air. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: "This sectarian violence must end. [The people of the CAR] break the cycle of violence. [They] must seize the opportunity afforded by its newly appointed transitional leadership and a strong level of international support to end the present crisis and move toward a stable and peaceful society." The aftermath of Djotodia's presidency was said to be without law, a functioning police and courts. National Transitional Council member Jean-Emmanuel Ndjaroua was killed by unknown gunmen in early February. This was condemned by the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA), whose leader, General Babacar Gaye, condemned the killing and the violence as "unnecessary and indiscriminate violence that creates a climate of fear and encourages the emergence of acts of banditry."
As UN Secretary-General Ban-ki Moon warned of a de facto partition of the country into Muslim and Christian areas as a result of the sectarian fighting, He also called the conflict an "urgent test" for the UN and the region's states. Amnesty International blamed the anti-balaka militia of causing a "Muslim exodus of historic proportions." Samba-Panza suggested poverty and a failure of governance was the cause of the conflict. Some Muslims of the country were also weary of the French presence in MISCA, with the French accused of not doing enough to stop attacks by Christian militias. One of the cited reasons for the difficulty in stopping attacks by anti-balaka militias was the mob nature of these attacks.
On 5 February, Samba-Panza gave a speech to a group of Central African soldiers in the Bangui area. Moments after she left in her presidential motorcade, the soldiers lynched a man suspected of being a Séléka member.
On 10 February, Jean-Emmanuel Ndjaroua, a member of Samba-Panza's transitional government, was killed by unknown gunmen.
On 15 February, France announced that it would send an additional 400 troops to the country. French President Francois Hollande's office called for "increased solidarity" with the CAR and for the United Nations Security Council to accelerate the deployment of peacekeeping troops to the CAR. Moon then also called for the rapid deployment of 3,000 additional international peacekeepers.
In the northeast of the country, the former Séléka rebels were reported to be regrouping amid fears of continued reprisal attacks against Muslims in Christian areas and vice versa. In the aforementioned part of the country a new armed movement named Justice et Redressement was reported to be operating in and around Paoua and Boguila. Though its goals were unknown, there were threats that the weakening writ of the state could evolve into third-party armed groups form to pursue their own agendas, while even violent Islamist groups could appear.
In the southwest, anti-balaka militants attacked Guen in early February resulting in the deaths of 60 people, according to Father Rigobert Dolongo, who also said that he had helped bury the bodies of the dead, at least 27 of whom died on the first day of the attack and 43 others the next day. As a result, hundreds of Muslim refugees sought shelter at a church in Carnot. In the end of the month, French President Francois Hollande made another trip to the country after a security conference in Nigeria. He met the French MISCA contingent, Samba-Panza and other unnamed religious leaders. UN humanitarian coordinator Abdou Dieng said that only about US$100 million, or one-fifth of that which was pledged, had arrived in the country to fight a food shortage. He also warned of a food crisis that was thus looming. On a visit to Angola at the behest of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who was praised for his "special involvement" in the country, Samba-Panza said: "We do not have a situation of genocide, but the situation prevailing is really worrying, so we are fighting to take security to all population, no matter their religions." She also suggested that while the situation was "worrying" it was "under control." By mid-March, the UNSC had authorised a probe into possible genocide, which in turn followed International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Fatou BEnsouda initiating a preliminary investigation into the "extreme brutality" and whether it falls into the court's remit. The UNSC mandate probe would be led by Cameroonian lawyer Bernard Acho Muna, who was the deputy chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, former Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Jorge Castaneda and Mauritanian lawyer Fatimata M'Baye. On 13 March, a group of religious leaders — Imam Omar Layama, Reverend Nicolas Gbangou and Archbishop Dieudonne Nzapalainga — asked the Ban-ki Moon to redouble efforts to bring peace to the country.
Flavien Mulume, the acting commander of the Congolese contingent of MISCA, said that two Rwandan peacekeepers were wounded by the anti-balaka after fighting on 23 March in Bangui. The next day, angry youths had set up barricades to block the MISCA troops from entering an unnamed neighborhood. On 30 March, a group of Christian mourners was attacked by a Muslim who threw a grenade and resulted in 11 deaths, according to the national Red Cross. On 29 March, Chadian peacekeepers that were not a part of MISCA entered Bangui's PK12 district market in a convoy of pick-up trucks at about 15:00 and allegedly indiscriminately opened fire resulting in 30 deaths and over 300 injuries, according to the UN. Some sources indicated they were in Bangui to evacuate Chadians and other Muslims from the anti-balaka. On 3 April, Chad announced the withdrawal of its forces from MISCA, which the UN hoped would prevent further incursions by troops travelling directly from Chad. The first batch of 55 EUFOR troops arrived in Bangui, according to the French army, and carried out its first patrol on 9 April with the intention of "maintaining security and training local officers." France called for a vote at the UNSC the next day and expected a unanimous resolution authorising 10,000 troops and 1,800 police to replace the over 5,000 African Union soldiers on 15 September; the motion was then approved. On 10 April, MISCA troops escorted over 1,000 Muslims fleeing to Chad with a police source saying "not a single Muslim remains in Bossangoa." In the week of 14 May, former Séléka rebels shot and killed a Christian priest in Paoua. The next week, Dimanche Ngodi, an official in Grimari, said that during a clash between the anti-balaka and the former Séléka rebels French MISCA troops intervened resulting in several deaths. Captain Sebastien Isern, spokesman for the French troops, said the anti-balaka group had been "neutralised."
On 28 May, Séléka rebels stormed a Catholic church compound, killing at least 30. On 2 June, the government banned text messaging, deeming it a security threat, after calls for a general strike were made via SMS. On 23 June, anti-balaka forces killed 18 members of the mostly Muslim village of Bambari. Several young Séléka took revenge against this attack the same day by killing 10 anti-balaka. On 8 July, 17 people were killed when Séléka forces attacked a Catholic church in Bambari, believing that the church was supposedly sheltering anti-balaka troops.
After three days of talks, a ceasefire was signed on 24 July 2014 in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. The Séléka representative was General Mohamed Moussa Dhaffane, and the anti-balaka representative was Patrick Edouard Ngaissona. The talks were mediated by Congolese president Denis Sassou Nguesso. The Séléka delegation had pushed for a formalization of the partition of the Central African Republic with Muslims in the north and Christians in the south but dropped that demand in talks. Many factions on the ground claimed the talks were not representative and fighting continued with Séléka's military leader Joseph Zindeko rejected the ceasefire agreement the next day saying it lacked input from his military wing and brought back the demand for partition. Ngaissona told a general assembly of Antibalaka fighters and supporters to lay down their arms and that Antibalaka would be turned into a political party called Central African Party for Unity and Development (PCUD) but he had little control over the loose network of fighters. Further talks were held with Joachim Kokate representing the Antibalaka and Djotodia representing the Exseleka and another ceasefire agreement was reached in Nairobi, Kenya in April 2015. However the talks were not recognized by the French, the UN or the transitional government, who termed the parties "Nairobists". Similar to the previous ceasefire, it had little effect in stopping the fighting. In May 2015, a national reconciliation conference organized by the transition government of the Central Africa Republic took place. This was called the Bangui National Forum. The forum resulted in the adoption of a Republican Pact for Peace, National Reconciliation and Reconstruction and the signature of a Disarmament, Demobilisation, Rehabilitation and Repatriation (DDRR) agreement among 9 of 10 armed groups.
With the de facto partition of the country between Ex-Seleka militias in the north and east and Antibalaka militias in the south and west, hostilities between both sides decreased but sporadic fighting continued. In August 2014, 34 people were reported killed by Séléka fighters around Mbrès. In September 2015, at least 42 people were reported killed and about 100 injured in Bangui as Muslims attacked a mainly Christian neighborhood after a Muslim man was killed and dumped on the street. In October 2016, 25 people were reported killed in two days of violence between ex-Seleka and the anti-Balaka in Bambari. Because of increasing violence, on 10 April 2014, the UN Security Council transferred MISCA to a UN peacekeeping operation called the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) with 10,000 troops, to be deployed in September that year. MINUSCA drew figurative “red lines” on the roads to keep the peace among rival militias.
In February 2016, after a peaceful election, the former Prime Minister Faustin-Archange Touadéra was elected president. In October 2016, France announced that it was ending its peacekeeping mission in the country, Operation Sangaris and largely withdrew its troops, saying that the operation was a success. Since 2014, there was little government control outside of the capital, Bangui. Armed entrepreneurs have carved out personal fiefdoms in which they set up checkpoints, collect illegal taxes, and take in millions of dollars from the illicit coffee, mineral, and timber trades. By 2017, more than 14 armed groups vied for territory, notably four factions formed by Ex-seleka leaders who control about 60% of the country's territory.
UPC conflict (2016-present)
Months after the official dissolution of Seleka it was not known who was in charge of Ex-Seleka factions during talks with Antibalaka until on 12 July 2014, Michel Djotodia was reinstated as the head of an ad hoc coalition of Exseleka which renamed itself "The Popular Front for the Rebirth (or Renaissance) of Central African Republic" (FPRC). Later in 2014, Noureddine Adam led the FPRC and began demanding independence for the predominantly Muslim north, a move rejected by another general, Ali Darassa who formed another Ex-Seleka faction called the "Union for Peace in the Central African Republic" (UPC) which is dominant in and around Bambari while the FPRC's capital is in Bria. Darassa rebuffed multiple attempts to reunify Seleka and threatens FPRC's hegemony. Noureddine Adam declared the autonomous Republic of Logone or Dar El Kuti on 14 December 2015 and intended Bambari as the capital, with the transitional government denouncing the declaration and MINUSCA stating it will use force against any separatist attempt. Another group is the "Central African Patriotic Movement" (MPC) founded by Mahamat Al Khatim.
Much of the violence in this phase of the conflict is between Ex-Seleka militias. It largely started with a fight over a goldmine in November 2016, where MPC and the FPRC coalition which incorporated elements of their former enemy, the Anti-balaka, attacked UPC. The violence is often ethnic in nature with the FPRC associated with the Gula and Runga people and the UPC associated with the Fulani. Most of the fighting was in the centrally located Ouaka prefecture, which has the country's second largest city Bambari, because of its strategic location between the Muslim and Christian regions of the country and its wealth. The fight for Bambari in early 2017 displaced 20,000. MINUSCA made a robust deployment to prevent FPRC taking the city and in February 2017, Joseph Zoundeiko, the chief of staff of FPRC who previously led the military wing of Seleka, was killed by MINUSCA after crossing one of the red lines. At the same time, MINUSCA negotiated the removal of Darassa from the city. This led to UPC to find new territory, spreading the fighting from urban to rural areas previously spared. Additionally, the thinly spread MINUSCA relied on Ugandan as well as American special forces to keep the peace in the southeast as they were part of a campaign to eliminate the Lord's Resistance Army but the mission ended in April 2017. In May 2017, fighting in the southeast between the antibalaka and UPC killed up to 100 people in Alindao, and about 115 people Bangassou. About 15,000 people fled from their homes and six U.N. peacekeepers were killed - the deadliest month for the mission yet.
In Western CAR, another rebel group, with no known links to Seleka or Antibalaka, called "Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation" (3R) formed in 2015 reportedly by self-proclaimed general Sidiki Abass, claiming to be protecting Muslim Fulani people from an Antibalaka militia led by Abbas Rafal. They are accused of displacing 17,000 people in November 2016 and at least 30,000 people in the Ouham-Pendé prefecture in December 2016.
Human rights abuses include the use of child soldiers, rape, torture, extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances.
It is argued that the focus of the initial disarmament efforts exclusively on the Seleka inadvertently handed the anti-Balaka the upper hand, leading to the forced displacement of Muslim civilians by anti-Balaka in Bangui and western CAR. While comparisons were often posed as the "next Rwanda", others suggested that the Bosnian Genocide's may be more apt as people were moving into religiously cleansed neighbourhoods. In 2014, Amnesty International reported several massacres committed by the anti-balakas against Muslim civilians, forcing thousands of Muslims to flee the country. Other sources report incidents of Muslims being cannibalized. Much of the tension is also over historical antagonism between agriculturalists, who largely comprise Anti-balaka and nomadic groups, who largely comprise Seleka fighters.
There was ethnic violence during fighting between the Exseleka militias FPRC and UPC, with the FPRC targeting Fulani people who largely make up the UPC and the UPC targeting the Gula and Runga people, who largely make up FPRC, as being sympathetic to FPRC. In November 2016 fighting in Bria that killed 85 civilians, FPRC was reported targeting Fulani people in house-to-house searches, lootings, abductions and killings.
Crime and violence against aid workers
In 2015, humanitarian aid workers in the CAR were involved in more than 365 security incidents, more than Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia. By 2017, more than two thirds of all health facilities have been damaged or destroyed. The crimes are often committed by individuals not associated with any armed rebel groups. There have been jail breaks with more than 500 inmates escaping from Nagaragba Central Prison, including fighters of both Christian and Muslim militias. By 2017, only eight of 35 prisons function and few courts operate outside the capital.
2013 fatalities were 2,286–2,396+:
- March 2013– Seleka (Coalition of 5 Muslim rebel groups) has overthrown government and seized power.
- March 24 – April 30 – around 130 people killed in Bangui.
- June – 12 villagers killed.
- August – 21 killed during the month.
- 09 September Bouca violence – 73-153 killed.
- 06 October – 14 killed.
- 09 October – 30-60 killed in clashes.
- 12 October – 6 killed.
- 4–10 December – 600-610 killed in Bangui and other locations.
- 2,000+ killed in December and January.
In May 2014, it was reported that around 600,000 people in CAR were internally displaced with 160,000 of these in the capital Bangui. The Muslim population of Bangui dropped 99% from 138,000 to 900. By May 2014, 100,000 people had fled to neighbouring Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Chad. As of 2017, there are more than 434,000 internally displaced people and 500,000 refugees in neighboring countries out of a total population of 4.8 million, with half needing immediate assistance. Cameroon hosted the most refugees, more than 135,000, about 90% of whom are Fulani, even though they constituted 6% of CAR's population.
- African Union – Yayi Boni, then-chairman of the African Union, held a press conference in Bangui, stating, "I beg my rebellious brothers, I ask them to cease hostilities, to make peace with President Bozizé and the Central African people ... If you stop fighting, you are helping to consolidate peace in Africa. African people do not deserve all this suffering. The African continent needs peace and not war." Boni went on to call for dialogue between the current government and the rebels. The African Union suspended the Central African Republic from its membership on 25 March 2013.
- European Union – On 21 December 2012 the High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton called on the armed rebel groups to "cease all hostilities and to respect the Libreville Comprehensive Peace Agreement." European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid Kristalina Georgieva added that she was deeply worried over the situation in the country and that she strongly urged "all armed groups to respect international humanitarian law and the activities of humanitarians". On 1 January Ashton once again expressed concern over the violence and urged all parties involved to "take all necessary measures to end, without delay, all exactions against populations in Bangui neighbourhoods that undermine chances of a peaceful dialogue."
On 10 February 2014, the European Union established a military operation entitled EUFOR RCA, with the aim "to provide temporary support in achieving a safe and secure environment in the Bangui area, with a view to handing over to African partners." The French Major General Philippe Pontiès was appointed as a commander of this force.
- United Nations – On 26 December 2012 the U.N. announced it was pulling all non-essential personnel out of the country due to the worsening security situation. In a statement, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the rebels' advance and warned that it had the potential to "gravely undermine the peace agreements in place." He also called on the government "to ensure the safety and security of U.N. personnel and its premises."
- Gabon/ Chad/ Cameroon/ Congo/ Equatorial Guinea sent troops in 2013 to make up an African Union Multinational Force for Central Africa (FOMAC) peacekeeping force in CAR.
- Brazil – On 25 December 2012, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brazil issued a statement "urging the parties to observe an immediate cessation of hostilities and any acts of violence against the civilian population" and called for "the restoration of institutional legality in the Central African Republic". The Brazilian government stated that it had been in contact with the small number of Brazilian nationals residing in the country.
- Estonia – On 9 May 2014, sent 55 troops to join the EU's EUFOR RCA mission.
- Georgia – 140 troops joined EU's military mission in the Central African Republic.
- France – On 27 December 2012, CAR President Francois Bozizé requested international assistance to help with the rebellion, in particular from France and the United States. French President François Hollande rejected the plea, saying that the 250 French troops stationed at Bangui M'Poko International Airport are there "in no way to intervene in the internal affairs". Separately, a Foreign Ministry statement condemned "the continued hostility by the rebel groups", adding that the only solution to the crisis was dialogue.
- South Africa – South Africa had numerous troops in the CAR since 2007. A Special Forces unit protected President Bozizé under Operation Morero and a second group trained FACA under Operation Vimbezela. Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula traveled to Bangui on 31 December 2012 to assess the situation. On 8 January 2013 the South African National Defence Force deployed 200 additional troops to the CAR, half of the force authorized by President Jacob Zuma. On 21 March President Bozizé traveled to Pretoria to meet with Zuma, allegedly to discuss the 72-hour ultimatum that the rebels had given him. The South African troops from the 1 Parachute Battalion suffered 13 killed and 27 wounded while defending against the advancing Séléka. On 24 March 2013 SANDF soldiers began withdrawing to Entebbe air base, with the reported intention to return to the CAR to retake control from Séléka.
- United States of America – On 17 December 2012 the State Department's Overseas Security Advisory Council published an emergency message warning US citizens about armed groups active in Mbrès and advising them to avoid travel outside Bangui. US Embassy personnel were prohibited from traveling by road outside the capital. On 24 December the State Department issued another warning. All non-essential personnel were evacuated, and the embassy switched to limited emergency consular services. On 28 December, the United States Embassy in Bangui suspended operations due to the ongoing rebel attacks; with Ambassador Laurence D. Wohlers and his diplomatic staff evacuating the country.
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