The international coalition working to bring peace to the Central African Republic met recently in the capital, Bangui, to reaffirm its commitment to helping end the crisis there.
Violence has gripped the C.A.R. since December 2012, when the Seleka armed group, an alliance of largely Muslim rebels, began a rebellion that overthrew former President Francoise Bozize and seized power. Their horrific abuses prompted creation of largely Christian militias, the anti-balaka, and led to increasingly inter-communal violence. Since then, sectarian attacks by each group against the other, and against innocent civilians, have devastated the country. An estimated 2,600 Central Africans have died and nearly 1 million of the nation’s 4.5 million citizens have been displaced, many fleeing into neighboring countries.
The United States strongly endorses the conclusions of the sixth meeting of the International Contact Group on the Central African Republic held November 11. The group reiterates the international community's strong support for the important work that has been done by Transitional President Catherine Samba-Panza and her team to advance a peaceful, inclusive, democratic political transition in the C.A.R., and to govern in the interests of all Central Africans. It again reaffirms the universal stand against impunity, and for access to justice and accountability for violations of international humanitarian law.
The group’s conclusions outline a broad consensus on the way forward toward a peaceful, prosperous, tolerant and democratic future, starting with an intensive effort of the C.A.R. Government, in tandem with its international partners, to prepare for an inclusive national dialogue in the next few months. It is imperative that C.A.R. authorities ensure that this dialogue includes a wide spectrum of voices and viewpoints. The government must also continue its outreach to armed groups, and begin national outreach to the provinces at the grassroots level by December 1.
The United States urges the C.A.R. Government to take all necessary steps to expedite the organization of free, fair, credible and inclusive elections when feasible, and takes note of the contact group’s request that the transition period be extended by six months.
CAR's people and leaders continue to face incredible challenges, but have demonstrated their resiliency and determination to move toward a better future. The United States remains a committed partner in helping the C.A.R. in this endeavor.