Instability the Norm in Central African Republic as Rebel Violence Surges

Instability the Norm in Central African Republic as Rebel Violence Surges
Pro-Seleka Muslim residents barricade the bridge at the entrance of Bambari, Central African Republic, May 22, 2014 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

There has been a resurgence of violence in the chronically unstable and impoverished Central African Republic (CAR), as regional and international efforts to push back against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) continue to fall short, and ongoing tensions between Muslim and Christian militia groups rage.

CAR has experienced episodic violence for decades, but instability deepened in March 2013, when a predominantly Muslim rebel coalition known as the Seleka seized power, overthrowing former President Francois Bozize. That precipitated a bloody war between Seleka fighters and the mainly Christian “anti-balaka” militias, fought along religious and intercommunal lines. Since then, approximately 6,000 people have been killed and a quarter of the country’s population has been displaced.

Religious tensions persist today, despite a French military intervention—since handed off to a United Nations peacekeeping mission—and diplomatic efforts to stabilize the country. Although the Seleka were technically disbanded in September 2013 and integrated into the national army, rebels from the group, who now operate as “ex-Seleka,” continue to clash with and attack anti-balaka fighters. A 2014 U.N. Commission of Inquiry concluded that both sides of the conflict were guilty of war crimes.

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