A fresh rebel offensive since December 2012 managed to reach the outskirts of capital Bangui after capturing the northern- and central hinterland in less than a month, facing little resistance from the poorly armed national army. The ‘Seleka’ rebel coalition composes of three dissident fractions motivated by the government’s alleged failure to honour previous peace deals, as implementing disarmament- and reintegration programs, and its failure to fight abject poverty. With President Bozize unable to slow the rebel advance, he agreed to enter unconditional peace talks in Libreville, which resulted in a ceasefire and an agreement to form a government of national unity being signed, while Bozize pledged to step down at the end of his term in 2016. The government of national unity should be in place for a transition period of one year, pending for parliamentary elections, and includes members of the previous government, Seleka and the democratic opposition (that nominated the new Prime Minister). Henceforth, a final push to Bangui was prevented and Bozize managed to stay in power essentially due to the bargaining scope created by emerging troop deployment from Chad, Gabon, Congo-Brazzaville, South Africa and Cameroon.

Impact on country  risk

Ever since independence, the Central  African Republic has been suffering low-level insurgencies with local rebellions, banditry, ethnic tensions and spill-overs from neighbouring conflicts (Chad, Sudan, Uganda and DRC), disrupting any hopes of stabilisation. For years, porous borders and an unprotected bush interior have given armed intruders free-play. Under President Bozize’s reign there has been no room for political opposition despite numerous coup-attempts. He himself came to power through a 2003 coup - supported by Chad - and confirmed his presidency in 2005 and 2011 through alleged fraudulent elections. Divisions and power struggles are expected to raise deep tensions within the newly formed government coalition, facing major challenges in restructuring the army and pacifying the country with Seleka threatening to take up arms when agreed conditions fail to be adhered. Notwithstanding the abundance of diamonds, gold and uranium, economic development is expected to be continuingly obstructed by profound political chaos.

Analyst: Louise Van Cauwenbergh, l.vancauwenbergh@credendogroup.com