Peacekeeping: The Central African Republic And The Imperfect Solution


August 26, 2009: The CAR (Central African Republic) has a three year peace plan to demobilize up to 10,000 rebels, and turn them into productive civilians again. This is not without problems. For example, when rebels first arrived at a demobilization center near the Chad and Sudan border, tribal animosities led to renewed fighting. Kara tribesmen arrived at the center, and began shooting at Goula tribesmen. Both groups belonged to the UFDR rebels, but the Goula backed the peace deal, while some in the smaller Kara tribes did not. UN peacekeepers and still armed UFDR rebels, drove off the Kara, killing 25 of them. Several dozen people, including civilians caught in the crossfire, died.

The initial demobilization started on August 13th, and will go on for a month. This process is based on similar efforts, elsewhere in Africa, that have worked. A year ago, the CAR government worked out a peace deal with the two major rebel groups; the APRD (Popular Army for the Restoration of the Republic and Democracy) and the UFDR (Union of Democratic Forces for Unity). Both the CAR government and France saw that deal as a major step forward. The negotiations had been fostered by France and the United Nations.

 One big problem for the rebels was the amnesty agreement the government proposed. The APRD demanded a general amnesty and release of prisoners. They also wanted former rebels, who were not guilty of war crimes, offered jobs in the CAR Army. But the government does not want a lot of ex-rebels in the army.

The UN does not want Chad and Sudan 's Sahel War to expand into CAR. The Central African Republic's northern and north-eastern areas continue to be used by Chadian and Sudanese rebel groups as a route for moving personnel and equipment. While the APRD and the UFDR have been fighting an "intermittent insurgency" since 2003, the struggle had degenerated into banditry and tribal feuding. Of late, the rebel militias have devoted more of their time to fighting bandits, especially the ones coming from Chad and Sudan (who see the chaotic situation in CAR as an opportunity).

In other parts of the CAR, rebel groups have not made peace, and still skirmish with each other, and what passes for government security forces.





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