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The East African : January 13th 2014
The EastAfrican OUTLOOK JANUARY 11-17,2014 31 able to halt CAR’s drift to anarchy? THE WARS 2004 The Central African Republic Bush War (2004-2007), started immediately Bozize seized power. Multiple rebel groups coalesced around the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity led by Michel Djotodia. 2012 The conflict started on 10 December 2012, between the CAR government and Séléka. The rebels accused the government of failing to abide by peace agreements signed in 2007 and 2011. coup, it sponsored two summits in Nd’jamena, Chad, on April 3 and 18, 2013. At the summits, participants recognised the new government within a framework of a transition supervised by the international community. In July 2013, the African Un- Displaced children queue outside an MSF clinic in Bangui to get vaccinated against measles on January 8. Picture: AFP Chaos and anarchy have pushed CAR deeper into poverty. As such, the 2013 Legatum Prosperity Index, the annual ranking of 142 countries by the Legatum Institute, ranks CAR as the second poorest country in Africa. Similarly, the Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance places it in the last five, with insecurity as its main downside. So far, the CAR conflict has defied all diplomatic efforts towards lasting peace. CAR is a veritable graveyard of failed peace pacts, negotiated between 2007 and 2012. One such agreements is the Global Peace Accord following the first bush war, which was signed in Libreville, Gabon on June 21, 2008. The accord granted amnesty for any acts perpetrated against the state prior to the agreement, and called for a disarmament and demobilisation process to re-integrate former rebels into society and the regular CAR armed forces. It also provided a roadmap to sustainable peace and democracy, including reconciliation, a unity government and local elections in 2009 and parliamentary and presidential elections in 2010. But the agreement was not signed by all parties and was eventually violated. Regional actors have regis- tered minimal success in resolving the CAR conflict. On January 11, 2013, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) brokered a peace ac- cord signed by then president Bozize and the Séléka rebel alliance in Libreville, Gabon. The pact called for cessation of hostilities, the withdrawal of rebels from occupied towns, and the immediate dispatch of a peacekeeping mission. Under the accord, Bozize would not run for another term in office, would form a government of national unity, and hold legislative elections within one year. The region was pulling in dif- ferent directions. Even as the African Union was contemplating how to deal with the crisis, South Africa and Benin opposed the inclusion of Séléka in the government. Bozize had drawn closer to Pretoria, especially after breaking ranks with the francophone block, and supported South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s bid for AU’s chairperson against the French-backed Gabonese candidate, Jean Ping. For this support, South African soldiers were killed during the March 2013 coup. But soon the accord collapsed, giving way to Séléka’s military putsch in March 2013. The militias overran Bangui and took over the presidential palace. Bozize fled across the Oubangi River into the Democratic Republic of Congo. The AU suspended Bangui for the unconstitutional seizure of power. However, after the ion’s Peace and Security Council authorised the deployment of an African-led International Support Mission in the CAR (Misca). It also agreed on the modalities of the transition from the region’s Mission for the Consolidation of Peace in Central African Republic (Micopax) to Misca. And in October 2013, the Union adopted a transition roadmap for the CAR conflict. However, in October 2013, amid escalating violence, France, CAR’s former colonial master, stepped up its military intervention declaring that it did not “want tomorrow to pay the far higher price of inaction.” On October 10, 2013, the UN Security Council adopted a France drafted resolution on CAR supporting transition road map under Misca. France has been keen to co- ordinate its intervention with African and global initiatives. Between December 6 and 8, 2013, the country hosted African leaders, the United Nations Secretary General and European Union chiefs at the annual France-Africa Summit. The Central African Republic question was key on the summit’s agenda. French Defence Minister JeanYves Drian has since unveiled Paris’s plan to send an extra 1,000 French soldiers to bolster its existing 410-odd troops who have been guarding the airport in Bangui. The summit drafted a UN Security Council resolution authorising a UN peace operation as a bridging force to restore security in CAR pending a major reinforcement of Misca. But France has been wary of appearing to replace the regional force and the backlash this is likely to attract. Thus, a French Defence Ministry official was quick to explain: “We won’t be there to replace the African force, but to strengthen it.” Despite this, the terrain of war in CAR is problematic to French military strategists. CAR is dif- Now With more than 935,000 people displaced, interim leader Michel Djotodia stepped down in the face of an impending humanitarian disaster. ferent from Mali where French soldiers were involved in a straight combat against organised and armed Islamist fighters. In CAR, the disparate armed militias on the loose are making things far more dangerous. CAR is fundamentally rede- fining France’s foreign policy. But the 1,600 troops France has committed are too few to end the conflict. As such, General Vincent Desproges, the former head of the French War College, maintains that either France has to add another 5,000 troops or leave the country to its own fate. “The French troops … are too few to impose themselves on events,” argues Michael Goya, a military historian. The French trend to take strong overt positions on CAR’s internal affairs is beginning to cause unease. On December 16, 2013 France expressed displeasure at the sacking of three ministers by former president Djotodia. Those dismissed included Finance Minister Christophe Bremaidou, Security Minister Josue Binoua, Livestock Minister Joseph Bendounga and treasury director Nicolas Geoffroy Gourna-Douath. Vincent Floreani, deputy spokesman at France’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, argued that the sackings would increase the instability in the country. But France’s intrusion in CAR’s internal governance is likely to fuel charges of neo-colonialism. This makes a case for a peaceful approach to the CAR question. France and other actors in CAR should fast-track the implementation of the letter and spirit of the Libreville 2 Agreement. Key to this is making timely preparations for the next elections slated by the transitional charter for January 2015. Failure to this, CAR might be- come another Somalia, for decades bedevilled by state failure, war and a protracted humanitarian crisis. Prof Peter Kagwanja is the Chief Executive of the Africa Policy Institute. Laureen Wesonga is a policy analyst with the Africa Policy Institute. Somali bomb experts inspect the site of car bombs that went off outside a hotel on January 1 in Mogadishu. Pic: Mohamed Abdiwahab/AFP Al Shabaab now seen as a th≥eat to Somalis By KEVIN KELLEY Special Correspondent THE TERROR attack on Nairobi’s Westgate Mall in September 2013 shone the spotlight on the dangers facing Al Shabaab, analysts said at a recent forum in Washington. The killing of more than 60 people at the mall in Nairobi has “profoundly negative consequences” for a faction within Al Shabaab that is focused more on winning power in Somalia than on waging international jihad, said Bronwyn Bruton, deputy director of the Africa programme at a Washington think tank. Al Shabaab currently exists as “an uneasy alliance” between a “clan-based” set of nationalist fighters and an Al Qaeda-aligned “transnational” grouping committed to hitting targets in Kenya and other countries, Ms Bruton added. Militants with a broader agenda may have achieved their aims in attacking Westgate, but that atrocity had “catastrophic implications” for many Somalis — both at home and in Kenya, she said. Kenyan authorities have increased their pressure in the mainly Somali Eastleigh district of Nairobi, while the US is again launching attacks inside Somalia, Ms Bruton noted. Stig Jarle Hansen, the Norwegian author of the book Al-Shabaab in Somalia, said at the forum at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace that the situation within the group is “much more complex” than a struggle between nationalist and internationalist factions. Mr Hansen agreed that Al Shabaab is ex- periencing “internal discord” which, he said, was due in part to Somalis’ reactions to attacks that have killed Muslims. The militants have also been weakened by loss of income following Kenyan troops’ takeover of the port of Kismayo, he observed. At the same time, Al Shabaab retains the ability to “tax” local populations in rural parts of Somalia that it still controls, Mr Hansen said. He also pointed to the group’s ability to recruit inside Kenya. “There is something growing there,” Mr Hansen said. Kenyan forces’ takeover of Kismayo and parts of Jubaland has “greatly changed Somalis’ perception of Amisom,” Ms Bruton said. Because Kenya has been permitted to “essentially annex” border areas of Somalia, the African Union military mission in Somalia is increasingly viewed as an occupying force, she said, adding that Amisom cannot remain in Somalia indefinitely. Al Shabaab is also not popular among ordi- nary Somalis, she said. The militants’ tactics have led many Somalis to support the government in Mogadishu.
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January 20th 2014