Renewed Violence in the Central African Republic: The Roots of a Political Crisis

When a fresh wave of violence broke out in the Central African Republic’s capital of Bangui at the end of September, the transitional government and the international community struggled to respond. Dozens died, hundreds were injured, and thousands fled their homes. Amid this increase in violence, CAR faces the daunting task of holding a constitutional referendum and general elections in the next two months. The U.S. Institute of Peace and the Great Lakes Policy Forum brought together the editors of Making Sense of the Central African Republic and several contributing authors on November 30 for a panel discussion on the roots of the recent crisis and the potential for peaceful, democratic change.

Read the event coverage, Risk to Central African Republic Lies in Avoiding Mistakes of the Past, Experts Say.

Ambassador Laurence Wohlers, Louisa Lombard, Nancy Lindborg, Tatiana Carayannis, Ledio Cakaj, Roland Marchal

Leaders and citizens of the Central African Republic, with the support of the international community, are currently focusing resources and energy on laying the groundwork for a peaceful constitutional referendum and elections in the coming months. But sustained peace in in the country will require longer-term efforts as well, because the recent crisis is rooted in decades of poor governance and persistent insecurity. After the elections, Central African Republic policymakers and the international community will be challenged to lay the groundwork for the new government by addressing the longstanding grievances that contribute to the cyclical nature of the violence in CAR.

The panel brought together some of the foremost experts on the Central African Republic’s recent history of rebellion and instability, including the two most recent coups, international intervention efforts, the country’s political economy, and the ongoing series of United Nations and regional peacekeeping efforts. The experts drew on their contributions to Making Sense of the Central African Republic, published by Zed Books, to make policy recommendations for the crucial remaining steps in CAR’s political transition and beyond.

Continue the conversation on Twitter with #CARUSIP.


Louisa Lombard
Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Yale University

Tatiana Carayannis
Deputy Director Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum (CPPF), Social Science Research Council (SSRC)

Ambassador Laurence Wohlers
Senior Fellow, Meridian International

Ledio Cakaj
Independent Consultant, Expert on the Lord’s Resistance Army and the Séléka

Roland Marchal
Senior Research Fellow, National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), based at the Center for International Studies (CERI), Paris Institute of Political Studies

Faouzi Kilembe
Independent Researcher, Expert on Central African Civil Society and Local Development

Nancy Lindborg, Moderator
President, U.S. Institute of Peace