By: Marko Stanic of The New School
Central African Republic (CAR) has become somewhat of a model country for Disarmament, Demobilization & Reintegration (DDR). Since claiming its independence from the French government in 1960, CAR has experienced chronic instability. With multiple overthrows of the country leadership, the mid-20th century CAR fits the mold of 1st Generation DDR nicely. Today the country is experiencing ongoing DDR programming, across all three phases, yet lingering challenges remain in the Northern parts of the country. Armed rebellions, and ex-combatants awaiting reintegration, if not addressed have the potential to undo the progress already achieved since the mid 20th century.
The DDR in CAR during the mid 20th century bares the definitive characteristics of the 1st Generation DDR. Known as the “era of statebuilding”, DDR during this period attempted to implement more powerful peace processes, with the backing of the United States and the Soviet Union. The Central African struggle for independence was an ideological one, it was a Liberation struggle. As such the DDR efforts focused on the security & stabilization efforts. The dominant caseload included male ex-combatants.
Since the 1960s there have been multiple overthrows of the government. Constitutional order was finally restored in 2005 with the launching of an all-inclusive Political Dialogue (PD). The PD was inventive at the time; it was inclusive of the politico-military groups which sought either rebellion or political inclusion. The latter was favored by the DDR. In 2008 the continuing peace talks had led to the disarmament of 2 main rebel groups, and the incorporation of their representatives in the country government.
The job however is not finished here. Presently there are 6,500 ex-combatants (XCs) and members associated to the armed groups in the prefectures of Ouham and Ouham Pende in Northern CAR. These persons have been disarmed and demobilized, but reintegration has yet to occur. Furthermore, there is resistance on the part of the country leadership to engage in a meaningful impact. The recurring rebellions in Northern CAR, coupled with the large amount of XCs in the same area creates a volatile situation – there is a risk of the non-integrated XCs taking up arms as part of the active rebellions.
The general lawlessness in the Northern CAR is further buffeted by the general absence of the state in the region. Security forces’ lack discipline and leadership, road-blockers acting with impunity, lend to regional instability. As such Northern CAR is highly vulnerable to internal and external shocks. The focus of DDR will need to be on the Northern regions of CAR. With the present instability created by the rebelling groups, and 6,500 personnel still awaiting reintegration the expectations are high for security stabilization and the reintegration of the ex-combatants.