Central African Republic is slowly, before our very eyes descending into a failed state. That statement is even more shocking considering the fact that the only words that might be debated in it are the words ‘slowly’ and ‘descending’. There are many who will argue that it is not slowly but fast nose diving into full scale crisis and some would even take it further to say it is not descending into but is already a failed state.
A landlocked country in the central region of Africa, CAR gained independence from the French in 1960. It has a population of around four and a half million people with a GDP per Capita of 446 dollars. Like many countries in Africa, democracy and free and good governance are not exactly common place so for over thirty years there were no multi-party elections. In 1993, there was finally an election which ushered in a leader, Ange-Felix Patasse. Yet again, as is the case in many countries on the African continent, power-hungry people around the top of the power structure would generally not let peace reign. Patasse’s reign did not enjoy stability and so he was finally ousted in 2003 by Francois Bozize.
Bozize himself was to have a taste of his own medicine in the 2012/2013 Central African Republic crisis when the Seleka rebels under the leadership of Michel Djotodia seized power from him accusing him of failing to abide by the terms of peace deals that had been signed. From that moment till now the peace in the country has literally been thrown out of the window.
France has said it will send in an extra 1000 troops into the Central African Republic to try to stem the tide of violence. The French defence minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said it became a necessary move after the United Nations had announced that there was a possibility of civil war in the country. “It’s in collapse and we cannot have a country fall apart like that. There is the violence, massacres and humanitarian chaos that follow a collapse. It will be a short mission to allow calm and stability to return” Le Drian said. France already has 420 soldiers on the ground, mainly to protect the airport in the Bangui, the country’s capital.
The United Nations Deputy Secretary General, Jan Eliasson had earlier warned that the Central African Republic was descending into a state of chaos. With access to most of the affected areas being difficult, it has not been easy to estimate how many casualties there have been with many now fearing confrontations between Christians and Muslims could become a full-scale homicide. Mr Eliasson had also warned that the violence could become something of a regional issue if not quickly arrested. “The CAR is becoming a breeding ground for extremists and armed groups in a region that is already suffering from conflict and instability,” he said. “If this situation is left to fester, it may develop into a religious and ethnic conflict with long-standing consequences, even a civil war that could spread into neighbouring countries.” Eliasson continued.
Some neighbouring countries like Sudan, Rwanda Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo are currently recovering from the effects of long periods of conflict and the trouble in the Central African Republic if spilled over into these countries can be something of a trigger for something way bigger than many imagined.
By Olajide Jatto