Seeds of genocide in the CAR: What we need to know

After concerted efforts by the Economic Community of Central African States, Prime Minister Djotodia, stepped down last week following a two-day summit in Chad. This concluded the shuttle diplomacy by Ambassador Power and concerted efforts by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to raise awareness of what was happening in CAR. His replacement, Mr. Alexandre-Ferdinand Nguendet is the former speaker of parliament and upon his ascension to office has claimed that violence has largely subsided.

Now the hard work begins. As countries such as Ivory Coast and Mozambique have taught us there is always a risk of an increase in violence rather than a decrease during transitions. As mentioned in my previous article , CAR was about a power struggle that had taken religious and regional undertones. The stepping down of PM Djotodia should not be taken to imply that there is a cessation of this struggle. With multiple players jostling for political power, it is incumbent on the observers to engage those pulling the nation apart.  If all the parties and not actively involved in this transition, we may find ourselves in this very same situation a few months down the line.

A report by Emmanuel Braun and Tom Miles from Reuters stated today that there were ‘Seeds of Genocide’ in Central Africa Republic. To be clear, this same claim had been made last year by John Ging the director of the U.N. Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs as well. With in mind, its safe to say that Mr. Braun and Mr. Miles did not make any news today about the situation in CAR, we have heard this before. What we need now is active engagement in the process to ensure peace and provision of safety and food during this transitory period.

Wahutu Siguru is the 2013 Badzin Fellow in Holocaust and Genocide Studies and PhD candidate in the Sociology department at the University of Minnesota. Siguru’s research interests are in the Sociology of Media, Genocide, Mass Violence and Atrocities (specifically on issues of representation of conflicts in Africa such as Darfur and Rwanda), Collective Memory, and perhaps somewhat tangentially Democracy and Development in Africa.

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