On the 24th of July 2014, France 24 reported that various armed groups met on Wednesday in Congo Brazzaville and agreed on a ceasefire. Over 170 Central African officials also took part in these talks, including members of transitional President Catherine Samba-Panza’s government, lawmakers, members of political parties and civil society. France 24 added that there has still been no agreement on important issues such as disarmament.
This very vital peace deal gives the Central African Republic (CAR) an opportunity to remain united and puts aside an envisaged division along religious lines of the war torn state between the Christian south and the Muslim north. The head of the Seleka delegation, Mohamed Moussa Dhaffane, reportedly, had earlier on demanded that a power-sharing deal was a precondition to any peace settlement. Guy-Herve Gbangolo, a representative of the Democratic Front of the Central African People, a militia group operating in western Central African Republic said such a demand by Seleka group was an aberration to a concrete peace deal.
This three-day meeting chaired by Congo’s President Denis Sassou Nguesso and supported by representatives of over 30 states was meant to resolve a calamity in the Central African Republic that has led to the death of thousands of civilians and produced more than a million refugees.
According to France 24, even as talks were going on Monday the 21st of July 2014 in Brazzaville, more violence broke out in the capital of the Central African Republic, Bangui. This fresh violence led to the death of a former Seleka rebel and sparked new attacks from the anti-Balaka militias.
The Central African Republic plunged into pandemonium in 2013 after the principally Muslim Seleka rebels took over power in a March 2013 coup d’état. This coup d’état was followed by looting, killing and raping between Muslims and Christians. The conflict indeed took the dimension of an inter-religious conflict. The United Nations warned the international community of an ‘ethno-religious cleansing’ in the conflict ridden state during an interview with FRANCE 24in February 2014.
It is important to applaud the efforts towards peace in the Central African Republic. All the same, Africans need to learn from the scenario of the Central African Republic which has led to thousands of deaths. One reason why we continue to have coups d’états in Africa is because regimes in place do not take the interests of individual rights seriously. Free markets are not promoted. Chronic bureaucracy and corruption remains the order of the day especially in states in the Central African region. State institutions such as the judiciaries remain weak and dependent on the executive branch of government.
States like the Central African Republic are very wealthy states but the populace keep on languishing in poverty. This is the reason why armed groups cannot sit back and see corrupt government officials plunder the state’s resources. It is thus vital that in ensuring that the peace deal succeeds, the interests of individuals should be taken into consideration. Free markets should be given a chance to strive in the Central African Republic. President Catherine Samba-Panza’s government needs to revamp the private sector and involve both the public and private sectors in policy formulation and implementation.
Disarmament is also crucial in ending the conflict in the Central African region. If both parties really want to end this conflict, then they have to seriously think about disarmament. If not the peace agreement will yield no fruits.
The African Union also needs to be serious about her role in curbing conflict on the continent. For some time now this international body has received a lot of criticisms for not acting swiftly when a calamity befalls a member state. Why then should tax payers’ money be used for unimportant missions and conferences while Africans continue to die because of conflict? African leaders therefore have a lot to do in ensuring that peace reigns on the continent. We cannot continue to shove under the carpet real problems like youth unemployment and poverty which are serious contributing factors to conflict in Africa and at the same time talk about peace agreements.
A holistic approach which involves all and sundry is thus needed to curb conflict on the African continent such as the one in the Central African Republic. If such measures are taken into consideration especially by African leaders, then we can start envisaging peace in the Central African Region.