Moroccan and Rwandan peacekeepers of MINUSCA. Following an ultimatum issued by the Mission Force to armed groups on 15 January 2021,
the latter abandoned the positions they had occupied since 3 January this year and fled the city.Photo : UN/MINUSCA -Leonel GROTHE.
An alliance of rebel groups backing the former president Francois Bozize have captured significant territory throughout the country. These forces are seeking to overturn the results of presidential elections in late December. In those elections, incumbent President Faustin-Archange Touadera was declared the winner. Bozize was not allowed on the ballot.
At time of recording, these rebel group control a key road from which goods, food and humanitarian supplies are imported to Central African Republic from neighboring Cameroon. The capital city, Bangui is under an effective siege.
The deteriorating situation in the Central African Republic has significant international implications. For one, the Central African Republic is home to a large peacekeeping mission, known as MINUSCA. These UN Peacekeepers are fulfilling their mandate to protect civilians caught in the conflict; the Blue Helmets are involved in fighting the rebel groups directly. Rwanda and Russia however, have come to the aid of the government of the Central African Republic. Meanwhile, over half a million people have fled to neighboring countries in recent weeks, mostly the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
On the line to discuss what is happening in the Central African Republic is Hans de Marie Heungoup. He is the Central Africa senior analyst with the International Crisis Group and I caught up with him from Nairobi. We kick off discussing how the conflict has evolved over the last several weeks, and how the conflict is rooted in the aftermath of a 2013 civil war and coup that ousted Bozize from power. We discuss the international dimensions of the conflict, including the role of Russia, Rwanda and France and we discuss what opportunities might exist to de-escalate the situation.
The Central African Republic was already one of the most stressed countries in the world and this renewed fighting threatens to unleash a humanitarian emergency of calamitous proportions