Outbreak of violence in the Central African Republic: how can local peacebuilders put an end to this?

By Martine Kessy Ekomo-Soignet

22 December 2016: Kessy Ekomo-Soignet calls on those with a real desire to end the conflict in the Central African Republic to support local peacebuilders.

A camp for displaced people near Bangui international airport. Photo credit: UNHCR

Recent violence in CAR is in line with previous violence: mainly about conflict between two opposed armed groups
Thinking about the recent violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) is not about just remembering the number of victims, the number of fathers, mothers, children, brothers and sisters that we have lost. This is now about the role and the place of thousands of people who have been trying for nearly three years, and, for some men and women, decades, to put an end to the violence in Central African Republic.

The recent violence in CAR is in line with previous violence: it is mainly about conflict between two opposed armed groups, and of the settling of accounts in which the civilian people are the main victims. This does not change the picture we have of the Central African crisis or how we read it.  And yet, the present violence no longer seems directed at the destabilisation of the established state, although it strongly contributes to it.

More than ever today, and with the return to constitutional law and order, peacebuilders continue to play their role by supporting local communities. Their role in the recent violence has been to bring humanitarian aid to the victims and to the victims’ families, and to make sure that they don’t join armed groups because of a desire for revenge. They thus continue their efforts to reinforce social cohesion.

This work will only bring results if some conditions are met.

If peacebuilders continue to play their role in the field, they can have a durable impact if, and only if, the new government puts into place essential actions. That is: DDR and other essential conditions needed to facilitate a return to a dignified life for the victims, through, for example, the setting up of a Special Penal Court and other mechanisms for transitional justice, the fight against impunity, the support of various activities for reconciliation and social cohesion, and obtaining favourable terms for the return of refugees as well as lasting solutions for displaced people.

Civil society is committed to restoring and building peace in CAR
These activities will help the success of the second stage mentioned in the plan for restoring and building peace in the Central African Republic. This consists of the renewal of the social contract between the state and the people, which was put forward at the Brussels International Conference on the Central African Republic, held on 19 November 2016.

During this round table, civil society, consisting mainly of local peacebuilders, reiterated its total support to the plan for restoring and building peace in the Central African Republic. They expressed a strong wish to see the partners and friends of the Central African Republic bring massive support to launch a real dynamic of peace, reconciliation and rebuilding which will bring a better future to the people of Central Africa.

After three years, the jubilation we witnessed in Bangui and in other regions on 1 December 2016, date of the Proclamation Day of the Central African Republic, two key points could be noted :

  • The Central African people believe peace will return and are acting together for this in a united way.
  • It is urgent to restore state authority on the whole territory. For indeed some areas which are still under the rebel control have not been able to celebrate the Proclamation Day.

Peacebuilders will always be present in the Central African Republic. They will be whether there are massacres or just tears to wipe, for these are Central  African women and men and they dream and act every day for the country to change in a positive way. In the end, we will one day have a united and peaceful Central African Republic, on its way to development.

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Insight on Conflict is the leading online resource for local peacebuilding and human rights in conflict areas. This article was originally published on Insight on Conflict. Published by Peace Direct, Insight on Conflict is the leading online resource for local peacebuilding and human rights in conflict areas.

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