Elections ending a two-year transition period were held in one of the world’s most chronically unstable countries. A first-round presidential vote was held on 30 December and the run-off took place on 14 February, resulting in the election of former Prime Minister Faustin-Archange Touadera as president. Moreover, legislative elections that were held in December but later annulled were also re-held on 14 February. Surprisingly, turnout was high and the process was peaceful and orderly, in part due to electoral assistance of the UN.

Impact on country risk

CAR has been marked by violence over the last three years after mainly Muslim rebel alliance ‘Séléka’ plundered its way across the country towards Bangui, where they managed to overthrow President Bozizé (who seized power himself in a coup in 2003). Christian ‘self-defence’ groups called anti-Balaka emerged, after which a spiral of religious violence was put in motion, killing thousands and making a fifth of the population flee their homes. Over the past months things got a little calmer and less violent incidents were reported, which is said to be partly thanks to Pope Francis’ visit in November, spreading a message of peace and reconciliation. Newly elected President Touadera will have greater political leverage than the interim president but he will struggle to extend authority over the lawless country. Armed groups are running lucrative roadblocks and smuggle diamonds, coffee and gold, making disarmament a very tricky objective as there is not much to offer in return. Consequently, regaining full territorial control is unlikely in the near term, knowing the government is not prepared to launch an offensive to retake the north-east in absence of a more effective army. Therefore, the focus is expected to be on rebuilding institutions and calm in Bangui and the south-west. Even though recent elections are widely recognised as an important step forward, violence could still easily be reignited when issues like conflict prosecutions and demobilisation come to the fore, while real inter-communal reconciliation will be hard and time-consuming. Henceforth, Credendo Group is not immediately inclined to upgrade CAR’s political risk classifications at least until further progress is made. Analyst: Louise Van Cauwenbergh, l.vancauwenbergh@credendogroup.com