Archive | January, 2014

Regional Pragmatism Versus Patrimonial Humanitarianism: The Strange Case of the Central African Republic

8 Jan

By Nwanatifu Nwaco

A comprehensive analysis and prediction of outcome of this conflict proves particularly troublesome because the facts of the conflict keep varying daily. Clearly, the prevalence confessional violence and ideological creeds has eclipsed the legitimate grievances which for decades stoked the flames of conflict in CAR. To stop at the excuse of a religious war tantamount’s to administering first aid on the surface of a mortal wound, when it clearly needs surgery. One cannot talk about this conflict without doing a retrospective memory recall of the country’s colonial and post colonial history, the state system and political culture, party and electoral regimes, governance, ethnicity and resource endowments. 

We must be beware of the power of the media and how it frames conflicts and set agendas within which their audience is doomed to see it. Western media outlets were the first to rebrand the conflict in CAR a Muslim Vs Christian affair, a description that has now been legitimized not just by the international community, but also  even by the Central Africans themselves. One must notice how foreign media is making the conflict a religious one? It fits into the ‘Islamist’ regional narrative currently en vogue. They’re are shying away from from the realities of failed governance and settling for a simpler excuse. The CAR is relatively homogeneous than Cameroon. Let them go ahead and create a boogeyman and while people are running and screaming scared, the machines will be drilling the resource over-rich soil in CAR and east Cameroon.

The problem with the ongoing conflict in the Central African Republic is that those leading the counter-rebellion are leaderless and have not put forward any political demands. A prerequisite to engage in peace making dialogue and peace building cooperation is that the belligerents must be known, which is not the case here. Even if the multinational force which has been deployed to disarm warring militias succeed, the lack of an initial political agenda for a democratic transition has already sown the seeds of a post-conflict power sharing deadlock. The peace making and keeping mission has already been overwhelmed as the crisis has entered an escalated phase, with its recipe listing many ingredients for a human and regional disaster!

it’s more easier to copy-paste the Sahelian Muslim North and Christian South excuse. This is a very lame reductionist way of getting to the roots of the conflict. CAR since independence has spawn several white-collar kleptocrats who have been celebrated and nursed by the French regimes and regional king makers from Chad and Sudan. The muslims, christians and animists have always been there along with marginalization, monopoly of power and wealth exclusion. Today if North Cameroon gets caught up in the frenzy from northern Nigeria or is overrun by militant groups in the east from Sudan, Chad and CAR, it’s the same narrative the foreign media is going to feed the world, forgetting that we’ve had a regime and governance experience unique only to us. What they should be asking is why despite this similar regional ideological alignment, Cameroon is still waltzing in relative stability?

Yes, whether we see it or not, the CAR is in a pre-genocide phase, should the rogue Seleka rebels or the vengeful Anti-Balaka rebels stumble upon or come into possession of better weapons, there will be an unstoppable blood-letting. This can easily happen, if the Chadians chose to sympathize with their ethnic and Muslim brethren by covertly arming them. Given the fact that South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo are havens for large number of uncontrolled heavy and small fire-arms who knows what could happen if these weapons found their way into the hands of the currently machete wielding kill-ready fighters?

The overt resurgence of the French on the international political scene comes after a period covert operations within the Francophonie bloc of African countries. In view of the geostrategy of the region to the global resource and arms industrial complex, the events in Ivory Coast-Libya-Mali-CAR, shows that France is reasserting it self within the subregions geopolitics, between religious groups, competing resource hungry powers and unpopular governments. The cold shoulder the French gave to the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, cost her very much in terms of diplomatic credibility and parity with her allies. The French are hell bent on shaking off the cloak of docility and naivety they had since been adorned with to now project a militarist image of itself. Their recent campaigns have just made the French army the most dynamic perhaps after the US, within the NATO bloc. 

The question now is how further are the various international forces present on the ground wiling to go to arrest this violence?  The French aside, what role can regional powers such as Cameroon and Chad play to contain this conflict from spilling over?

To be Continued…