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 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.
As the U.S. House of Representatives continues to adapt to the leadership of a new speaker, 6,000 miles away, the legislature of the Central African Republic (CAR), the National Assembly, has also recently elected a new leader. However, a change of leadership will not be sufficient to overcome the many challenges and weaknesses faced by this parliament, as the country continues to face rebel groups, communal violence, corruption, and intransigent poverty. The responses of many representatives to recent interviews with USIP raise a more fundamental question: given the context of the CAR, what is a parliament for?
The renewed violence in CAR reflects the need for a consistent engagement by the international community to sustain a peacebuilding process in the country. Governments and international organizations too often have focused on the country sporadically, in short-term reactions to crises that offer only temporary solutions.