Inside Story

CAR: 'A state of lawlessness'

The UN has adopted a resolution to bring peace to the Central African Republic, but will it make a difference?

Last Modified: 12 Oct 2013 10:23
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The UN is deeply concerned about the poor security situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) and the widespread human rights abuses in the country.

Seleka rebels overthrew President Francois Bozize and took power earlier this year. Since then, analysts say the CAR has descended into lawlessness and is in danger of becoming a failed state.

There will be never enough troops to restore security in the whole country .... Michel Djotodia is fully aware of the abuses that they [the Seleka] have committed. And he cannot control them. So if he wants to have a political future in the CAR, he has to distance himself from the Seleka fighters who are now accused by both locals and international community.

Thierry Vircoulon, the Central Africa Project director at the International Crisis Group

Now the UN Security Council has taken the first steps towards establishing a peacekeeping force in the country. It adopted a resolution that promises support for a new African Union (AU) force to be deployed in the CAR.

The UN raises the option of transforming the AU force into a UN peacekeeping operation if necessary and it urges free and fair elections to be held within 18 months.

The country has been plagued by violence since it gained independence from France in 1960. Between 1996 and 2003, there were at least five battles to seize the capital Bangui. But the most recent round of violence resumed last December, when a rebel coalition called the Seleka launched a number of attacks.

A peace deal was eventually reached but the Seleka fighters accused President Bozize of failing to honour it, and in March this year, they overthrew him, forcing him from power.

Five months later, rebel leader Michel Djotodia was sworn in as President. His government has promised to restore order and pave the way for elections.

But Seleka fighters are accused of rampant violence, murder, rape and looting, leaving the country in a state of near chaos.

Last month, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said France was determined not to forget its former colony and he warned it risked becoming a "new Somalia".

He told Europen Union and UN officials that "the CAR has become a lawless state, and in a lawless state, the exactions increase and without any action it can become the refuge of all terrorists."

Why has it taken such a long time for the UN to act? Can the UN halt the downward spiral? And can it help the country's political transition?

To discuss this, Inside Story, with presenter Shiulie Gosh, is joined by guests: Thierry Vircoulon, the Central Africa Project director at the International Crisis Group; and Nii Akuetteh, an independent African politics specialist.

"I think it's better late than never and I hope that the [UN] resolution is carried out properly. It is not a perfect solution, but the situation is so bad that, in my view, this step is a step in the right direction .... I would have preferred that the AU had done it on its own but ... I think the most important thing to keep in mind is the welfare of ordinary citizens in the CAR, and they are suffering from all the wars ... The African Union troops there for whatever reason have not been able to establish order, so if it takes the UN to come in and help stabilise the situation and then move on to democratic solutions, I am for that."

Nii Akuetteh, an independent African politics specialist 


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