The Central African Republic (CAR) has suffered from a cycle of violent coups since gaining independence in 1960. In 2016, the country’s first peaceful, democratic election raised hopes that CAR was beginning to stabilize, but more recently, violence between armed groups has escalated. U.S. Institute of Peace programs in CAR seek to establish effective two-way communication between government officials and communities on local security concerns. USIP’s Initiative to Measure Peace and Conflict Outcomes works with U.S. government-funded programs in CAR to broaden their ability to share information and boost overall effectiveness.
The 2017 National Security Strategy refocused U.S. foreign and defense policy to address resurgent major power competition with Russia and China. In U.S. foreign policy, Africa has emerged as a frontline for this competition, as in recent years both Moscow and Beijing have sought to expand their influence and promote their interests on the continent. Nowhere is the role of major powers more apparent than in the Central African Republic (CAR), where Russia has emerged as a key power broker amid a civil war that has simmered since 2012. Despite concerns about the need to counter other major powers, the best course for U.S. policy in CAR is to not allow competition with Russia and China to distract from the fundamental priority of supporting a democratic, inclusive path to peace.
The peace agreement signed in the Central African Republic (CAR) in early 2019 is the eighth in seven years, numbers that suggest how difficult it will be to even attempt to end to the country’s multi-sided conflict. That said, the accord this time was reached after more extensive preparations for talks and with greater international support than in the past, perhaps improving conditions for a sustainable halt to violence that has displaced more than 1.2 million people.
The Central African Republic’s president, Faustin-Archange Touadéra, came to Washington this week seeking to bolster U.S. support for a peace deal with internal armed groups, saying steady international assistance will be needed to rebuild the state and end years of metastasizing violence.