Elections 2015 – Central African Republic: A glimmer of hope for long-lasting peace?

14 June 2015 | ResolutionPossible

Catherine Samba-Panza; CAR; Central African Republic

Catherine Samba-Panza was designated as the interim president of the Central African Republic in January 2014. (Photograph – U.S. Department of State)

The Central African Republic (CAR) has witnessed sectarian violence mainly between two armed groups, the Muslim Séléka rebels and the “anti-balaka” Christian militia, which has led to innumerable killings and widespread displacement of innocent civilians. The immediate conflict has followed the coup of March 2013 by Séléka plunging the country in an unstable and unpredictable diaspora where massive human rights violations have been committed on both sides with impunity.

A political transition in CAR has been envisaged ever since Catherine Samba-Panza was designated as the interim president of the country in January 2014. She has been entrusted with the responsibility of overseeing the transition to a peaceful and democratic society but her task has been challenging amidst the sectarian violence committed by the armed groups where peace itself, as a precondition to democracy, has been difficult to achieve. However, hope has come in the form of adoption of the Republican Pact for Peace, National Reconciliation and Reconstruction at the Bangui National Forum which was held from 4th to 11th May, 2015.

The Forum was a congregation of representatives from political parties, civil society organisations, and armed groups and has been commended by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for being a “historic and inclusive process that amplified the voices of local representatives, women, youth, and civil society”. Its significance also lies in the agreement by the armed groups to completely disarm and immediately release all child soldiers, thus, providing the space for peace in the country. Further, the emphasis on building structures for justice and reconciliation and placing prerogative on social and economic development has been the focus of the Forum in order to cement the peace in the society before elections can be held in a free, fair and impartial manner. The elections, themselves, have been delayed and the mandate of the present transitional government has been extended in the recognition of the various prerequisites (in addition to peace) which have to be fulfilled, including the mobilisation of funds, in order to hold elections in CAR.

Forum National de Bangui 11.05.2015; central african republic; bagui;

The Bangui National Forum was held to discuss building structures for justice and reconciliation and placing prerogative on social and economic development to try and secure peace for fair elections to take place. (Photography – g7plus.org)

Thus, finally, there seems to be hope that peace could return to CAR after a long difficult period of political instability and various internal conflicts which can be traced back to its independence in 1960 from France. It has to be seen how far the steps agreed in the Forum would be implemented especially due to the fragmented nature of the armed groups lacking order and command, thus, attracting the risk of not complying with their obligations. In any case, the participation of the various stakeholders, most importantly, the people of CAR in the process of transition from the horrors of the conflict has to be acknowledged, credited and backed since peace has never been so urgent for CAR. Elections for the people in CAR mean more than choosing their representatives; they would signify a hope for long-lasting stability and thus it is in the interests of the international community and each one of us to extend our utmost support to CAR in its quest for becoming a peaceful and democratic country.

Research and writing – Anubhav Tiwari

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