Country FilesCentralCentral African Republic Country Profile 2015: The trials of Samba-Panza

Sun,19Nov2017

Posted on Tuesday, 24 November 2015 09:00

Central African Republic Country Profile 2015: The trials of Samba-Panza

By The Africa Report

altThe challenges that lie ahead for a return to peace and rule by an elected government in the Central African Republic (CAR) are unlikely to be resolved in 2015.

Fighting in the country continued throughout 2014 without an end in sight. The transitional regime is supposed to organise elections by February 2015, but the electoral commission says that will not be possible until much later in the year at the earliest.

The UN peacekeeping mission, which took over from the AU in September 2014, is not due to reach its mandated level of 12,000 troops until later in the year ahead. The Seleka forces that overthrew President François Bozizé in 2013 still threaten to push for the secession of the north. At the same time, the group was splintering into several smaller units in late 2014.

If elections take place, the state is also supposed to redeploy officials all over the country, reorganise the armed forces, restart the economy and complete the disarmament of Seleka forces and the Anti-balaka self-defence groups that sprung up to fight them. The authorities estimate that tens of thousands of people are to be involved in the disarmament process.

Negotiating with the rebels

Working with both the mostly Muslim Seleka troops and the mostly Christian Anti-balaka fighters will be difficult because of their decentralised organisation and the government's lack of funds.

Seleka is an alliance of former rebel groups that launched political parties, like the Union des Forces Démocratiques pour le Rassemblement and the Convention des Patriotes pour la Justice et la Paix.

altIn October 2014, the government decided to launch a working group with the Anti-balaka forces after they called for a truce. The fighters had at least temporarily withdrawn their demand for transitional president Catherine Samba-Panza to step down because her government cannot provide a solution to the conflict.

The government is almost completely dependent on its Central African peers, the AU and donor countries. Samba-Panza's administration has not been able to pay police and civil service salaries, so the World Bank and the UN have stepped in.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) temporarily suspended cooperation with the Bangui government over governance issues and doubts about the capacity of the administration.

Samba-Panza also provoked a conflict in August 2014 with CAR's mediators, led by the Republic of Congo, after failing to reach agreement about her appointment of prime minister Mahamat Kamoun. The state has not yet regained control of all of CAR's territory, so elections in 2015 are unlikely.

The transitional road map calls for the simultaneous holding of municipal, legislative and presidential elections in February. Since the beginning of the crisis in 2012, state officials and security forces have been rare in the towns in north and central CAR that were taken by the Seleka forces. The Autorité Nationale des Elections said in late 2014 that it was not optimistic about organising the polls before the end of 2015.

Toll of the crisis

The humanitarian impact of the fighting has been huge. An estimated one million people have been displaced, with about half living as refugees in neighbouring countries. It will take nearly a decade of pre-crisis levels of economic growth to make up for the 36% drop in the country's gross domestic product in 2013.

The country's trade and agricultural activities have been impacted by the crisis and have yet to start to recover. The Kimberley Process diamond certification scheme has suspended CAR from its membership and a discussion on the possibility of lifting the ban was due in November 2014.

At a donor conference in Brussels in January 2014, CAR's partners pledged a total of $572m in budget support, humanitarian assistance and development aid.

The government faced renewed criticism when investigations found in September that a portion of Angola's $10m aid package had not made its way into the state's coffers. In order to raise more domestic revenue, the state must rebuild its capacity to manage tax, customs and the treasury.

 



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