Inside Story

CAR: At a crossroads of conflict

Can intervention from European Union troops bolster African efforts to bring an end to sectarian violence?

As the situation in the Central African Republic continues to worsen, the European Union is expected to send troops to boost the peacekeeping force in the war-torn country.

Sectarian violence continues in CAR between Muslim-led Seleka rebels and Christian anti-Baleka fighters. More than 1,000 people have been killed during the last month, which has put a strain on the peacekeeping forces already there.

If we consider Chad is part of the problem, we can also consider that France is part of the problem, because since the beginning, since 1959, France has been making and dis-making the presidents in Central African Republic, and Chad is doing the same with its new power.

by  Louis Keumayou, president of the Pan-African Press Association

Peacekeepers have been in CAR for a little more than a year following the removal of President Francois Bozize from power. France initially sent between 800 and 1,000 troops, but that was outside a UN mandate.

Late last year, the UN Security Council approved the deployment of those forces under a mandate to bolster some 2,600 forces already there from the Economic Community of Central African States.

But towards the end of last year, the African Union took charge of that force and, by the end of this month, the AU operation is expected to reach 6,000 troops.

And now the EU is expected to deploy several hundred more troops to the country.

Twenty-eight European foreign ministers met in Brussels to decide on whether or not to send in as many as 1,000 peackeepers. The move comes after the UN warned that CAR was at risk of genocide, and the mission will be the EU’s first major operation in six years. 

EU officials hope to get UN Security Council authorisation for the mission this week, and for troops to begin arriving in CAR by the end of February. The peacekeepers will be based around the capital Bangui.

So, as the EU plans a deployment of more troops to CAR, can this really make any difference? And is a military approach the only answer?

To discuss this, Inside Story presenter Adrian Finigan is joined by guests: Sylvain Touati, an Africa analyst at FIKRA, a Doha-based political think tank; Louis Keumayou, the president of the Pan-African Press Association; and Vincent Darracq, a global security analyst specialising in Africa.

“In the case of Chad we can see that this is extremely sensitive, because Chad is not only a country which is bringing troops to keep peace and maintain a secure environment in the Central African Republic, but Chad is also party to the conflict.”

Vincent Darracq,  a global security analyst