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Central African Republic in Deadlock 0

Since late last year, populations in the interior of the Central African Republic (CAR) have lived in fear, uncertainty and complete destitution. For the last month it has been the capital, Bangui, with approximately a million inhabitants, which has been paralyzed by fear and lawlessness.

In one of the poorest countries in the world, nothing works anymore: the health system is blocked for lack of medicines and staff, the public administration was looted and officials have not taken up their posts again, salaries are not being paid, banks are not fully open, and telecommunications in the country’s interior were cut following looting. Vital routes for the delivery of essential goods are deserted and dangerous, market prices have tripled, the number of IDPs continues to increase and international NGOs, the majority of which have been looted, are unable to meet the overwhelming needs of the population.

The security system is also chaotic: the police and the armed forces from Bozizé’s regime are absent. Seleka’s forces appear to respond to disparate commands and the new government is not able to impose discipline on these ad hoc troops who engage in looting and extortion. Resistance loyal to the previous regime, those engaged in criminal activity and some individuals have taken advantage the confusion, by looting and settling personal scores. The military forces sent by countries in the sub-region are weak and insufficient to maintain order.

At the political level, the recent formation of the National Transitional Council will function both as a parliament and as a constitutional assembly for a period of 18 months. The Council inducted Michel Ndotoja as President of the Republic but this recognition appears to be insufficient for the international community. Negotiations with countries belonging to the Economic Community of Central African States are in progress but the political future of the CAR is full of challenges.

The media has not been spared by the crisis: the majority of community radio stations were looted and are off the air. The state radio and television stations were quickly converted into mouthpieces for the new regime and play the same partisan role that they did under Bozizé’s regime. The religious radio stations, also affected by the looting, remain cautious. Only Radio Ndeke Luka strives to continue its work in providing independent news in spite of daily challenges to freedom of movement (the radio’s vehicles were stolen) and the precarious security of the journalists. For the moment, the role of Radio Ndeke Luka has not been challenged by the new government.

Source: Fondation Hirondelle

Credit picture: Sophie Brändström / Fondation Hirondelle

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