1.1. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The Central African Republic (CAR), has experienced a succession of conflicts which have constituted a major obstacle to the country’s development since it gained independence from France in 1960 (Santiso, 2013). Several peace-building efforts have been made by the international community including more than 10 years of United Nations presence, but these have failed to prevent a relapse. These efforts placed the organization of national elections at the centre of peace-building activities with other key priorities being political dialogue and reconciliation, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. Little care was taken to address the conditions under which these would work. The overthrow of President Francois Bozizé in March 2013 completely reversed the close to two decades of peacebuilding. The insurgency and consequent overthrow of the president ignited ethnic and religious clashes which worsened the fighting between the Séléka rebels (mostly Muslims) and Christian militias called the „Anti-Balakas‟ (meaning anti-machete or anti-sword in Sango, a local language). The religious hatred that has resulted has made the efforts of international agencies including the AU and the UN more difficult. The CAR has indeed never been as divided. The conflict has also significantly destroyed the already basic infrastructure, especially housing in most settlements outside the capital and left the population at the mercy of uncoordinated armed groups. Unlike previous episodes of conflict, the current crisis which began in 2012 has been the deadliest and perhaps as a matter of cause the CAR has received unparalleled international peace building support. The active engagement of the United Nations (UN), African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and other international organizations and individual countries is testimony to this. Like previous efforts, current efforts have however prioritized the holding of national elections. Although the protection of civilians and the promotion and protection of human rights are included as priorities in the Mandate of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), these are not treated as such in practical terms. It has failed to address the practical challenges of having meaningful political dialogue and reconciliation, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration in a country where the population faces serious threats to physical security, where political efficacy is weak and physical infrastructure is in a precarious state in most parts of the territory. Although the level of international commitment to peace building efforts in the Central African Republic is unprecedented, it appears unlikely that these efforts will lead to sustainable peace. The difficulties of engineering peace in the CAR however contrast with the opportunities for peace process in this country. The crisis can therefore be perceived as a failure of the international community to take advantage of the prevailing conditions in the CAR to adopt a more tailored and effective approach. Perhaps the failure of past efforts and the weaknesses of ongoing efforts lie in the confusion with the very meaning of peace building. All interventions in the Car including the current efforts can best be described as statist. The argument can be made that there is a need for a peace process approach par excellence. But what is peace building? The term “peace building‟ was first used by the Norwegian sociologist Johan Galtung in the 1970s in his quest for the promotion of systems that would create sustainable peace. Such systems needed to address the root causes of conflict and support local capacity for peace management and conflict resolution (Galtung, 2010). His work emphasized a bottom-up approach that decentralized social and economic structures, amounting to a call for a societal shift from structures of coercion and violence to a culture of peace. American sociologist John Paul Lederach proposed a different conception of peace building as engaging grassroots, local, NGO, international and other actors to create a sustainable peace process (Coning, 2013). Within this literature the term “peace building‟ is defined as intervention that is designed to prevent the start or resumption of violent conflict by addressing the main threats to sustainable peace. Peace building activities address the root causes or potential causes of violence, create a societal expectation for peaceful conflict resolution and move societies closer to political and socio-economic equilibrium. However defined, it is implied in the works of scholars such as Galtung (2010), Mial (2012), Goodhand and Hulme (2012), Eshan (2012), Fisher (2012) and Arne (2004) among others, that as described in the Agenda for Peace, peacebuilding is the “construction of a new environment." The definition of peace building by Fisher (2012) best describes how this new environment is constructed. He considers peace building as engagement in programs designed to address the causes of conflict as well as the grievances of the past and to promote conditions for long-term stability and justice (Fisher, 2012). The current efforts in the CAR appear not to be building the new environment described here, one that is significantly different from that under which peace unraveled in 2012. The purpose of this paper is to examine the African Union and the peace process in Central African Republic. It asks why the country remains fragile and vulnerable to relapse despite international engagement and optimism. The answer in part lies in the priority given to the organization of national elections regardless of whether these will produce a truly representative and legitimate government and the emphasis on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration that cannot be genuinely achieved in the current context. A process dominated by elite interests and political negotiations may as in the past produce a government that lacks local legitimacy and that will depend on outside support to maintain itself in power. Without concrete efforts made to create the conditions that will make politics more inclusive, international efforts may be easily thwarted to serve non-democratic aims. Kewir & Emile (2016).
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Since gaining independence from France in 1960, the Central African Republic (CAR) has been unable to achieve a desirable measure of stability, security and development. Its economy is affected by a legacy of misdirected macroeconomic policies, unequal distribution of income and frequent factional fighting between the government and its opponents. Its largely unskilled workforce and poor transportation network, among others, imposes additional constraints on the country’s quest for sustainable development. Following a spate of military coups after independence, the country’s political system has witnessed several autocratic rulers. In the 1990s, calls for a democratic system of governance led to the first multi-party elections, won by Ange-Félix Patassé in 1993. During his tenure, Patassé faced several military coups and army mutinies, leading to deep ethnic divisions in the military and across the country. Patassé was overthrown by General Francois Bozizé during a coup that took place in 2003. Continued civil unrest led to the 2004 Bush War, which ended with the signing of a peace agreement in 2007. However, festering ethnic grievances instigated another successful coup in 2013. Michael Djotodia, the leader of the Sélékaii , overthrew General Francois Bozizé and assumed power and installed himself as president of CAR in March 2013. Involving several militia groups, the civil war has led to the death of thousands of people and the destruction of property across the whole country. Since the outbreak of conflict in 2013, CAR has undergone several interim and transitional governments. The Libreville Agreement of the same year that was signed between the Séléka and the new government for a coalition of national unity failed due to the dissatisfaction with the distribution of power. With elections only organized three years later in 2016, CAR found itself on the brink of instability and collapse, with the current government overwhelmed by the herculean task of terminating rebel and militia insurgencies, making progress with the peace talks, and implementing a Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration and Repatriation (DDRR) program for the militias in the country. The implementation of the peace agreement remains challenging given the existing religious and ethnic faultlines in the country as well as the continuous violence between warring factions and the emergence of new militia groups. Hence the study, African union and the peace process in Central African Republic.
1.3 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The major aim of the study is to examine African union and the peace process in Central African Republic. Other specific objectives of the study include;
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H0: There is no significant impact of African union on peace process in Central African Republic
H1: There is a significant impact of African union on peace process in Central African Republic
H0: There is no significant relationship between African Union and peace process in Central African Republic.
H1: There is a significant relationship between African Union and peace process in Central African Republic.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study would be of benefit to unveil problem areas in the implementation of peace process in the Central African Republic as well as to proffer policy recommendations that would benefit both the governments and the African union in their quest for peace keeping and/or conflict eradication in Central African Republic in general. The study would also be of immense benefit to students, researchers and scholars who are interested in developing further studies on the subject matter
The study is restricted to African union and the peace process in Central African Republic.
LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
Financial constraint: Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview)
Time constraint: The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
The African Union (AU): Is a continental union consisting of 55 member states located on the continent of Africa, with exception of various territories of European possessions located in Africa.
The Central African Republic (CAR): Is a landlocked country in Central Africa.
Peace Process may refer to: In general, Peacemaking Peacekeeping, Peace building, Conflict resolution, Conflict Transformation
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