The election of the Constitutional Court is contested by the opposition for re-election of the President. For the court, as for the international community, it is the exercise of power that will restore the re-elected president to full legitimacy.
“The people sent a clear and strong message to those who terrorized them, to those who asked them not to vote, and to the whole world.” By paying tribute to the Central Africans who voted massively in the areas where they were able to do so. , the President of the Constitutional Court, Danièle Darlan, wanted to emphasize that an entire nation was furious in the face of yet another military adventure, and finally validated the re-election of President Faustin Archange Touadéra during a hearing held on Monday 18 January.
Since mid-December, a new alliance of once enemy forces, the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC), has really disrupted the vote by clashing with the Central African Armed Forces (FACA), allied with the United Nations Mission (Minusca). and reinforcements from Russia and Rwanda. The security situation was then broken down, that only half of Central Africans could vote freely. This was what the Court wanted to remind you of by halving the official participation rate to bring it down to 35.74%. For the opposition platform COD2020, “President Touadéra was declared the winner with only 17% of the electorate, depriving him of any legitimacy to lead our country.”
For the Constitutional Court, the re-elected president is legitimate, but the president of the court, Danièle Darlan, insists that the election is not everything, and recalls that “legitimacy must be gained and maintained daily through the exercise of power and good governance.” Re-elected, Faustin Archange Touadéra, must now demonstrate that his victory is linked to his action by pursuing, despite the new obstacles, an approach taken five years ago which had borne some fruit.
When he took office for the first time in 2016, after an election in which he was not a favorite, the Central African Republic was only a shadow of itself. Three years earlier, a coalition of political-military groups, Seleka (“Alliance” in Sango), took power in Bangui. The return to constitutional order and the election in 2016 nevertheless gave a glimpse of an exit from the tunnel.
But in 2016, armed groups still control most of the country and the economy is bloodless. Without real ideological motives, these groups collide and, depending on the circumstances, ally with an economic model based on the resources of the predator. Despite the support of the United Nations’ 12,000 men (Minusca), the uncertainty is complete in the hinterland. The search for a peace process with armed groups is therefore one of the president’s first priorities. Negotiated and signed in Khartoum (Sudan) with the support of Russia is an agreement ratified in Bangui on February 6, 2019, with 14 armed groups marking the return to relative stability in the country for almost two years. Although this agreement will ultimately not be respected by all the groups who will continue to commit abuse on the spot.
At the same time, the Touadéra administration is also pursuing a major FACA training program with its partners, which is gradually setting up a garrison in each prefecture – a strategy dear to the president. An army closer to the ground, which should make it possible to better secure the areas and to redevelop the economy at the local level. In particular, in Bouar, the second city in the country, a garrison is being deployed, and the European unit helping with the reconstruction of the FACA, (EUTM), is also developing a training center there.
What assessment today? Little by little, therefore, the main cities found FACA, but in insufficient numbers to counter the armed groups, even though they were supported by Minusca and the Internal Security Forces (ISF). These advances have actually been very fragile, and many cities remain subject to armed groups that for a month have been reminded of their power to harm. As emphasized this Thursday, 21 January, Mankeur Ndiaye, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in the CAR, in his address to the Security Council, “The Central African Republic runs a serious risk of setbacks in matters of security and peace consolidation that could undermine everything, what this council and the partners in the Central African Republic have helped to build. ”He calls for an increase of Minusca on 3000 men, to counter the attacks of the members of the CPC.
Particularly targeted at the attacks of recent days are state agents who have also returned to the hinterland through the prefects and sub-prefects as well as with the presence of officials in the post (teachers, doctors, although very small). The international community has also made significant financial efforts to enable the rehabilitation of administrative buildings, schools, health centers or to open up certain areas. At the economic level, international partners and the government have adopted a comprehensive National Recovery Plan (RCPCA) aimed at speeding up the country. And in recent years, growth has been there, although it has largely been strengthened by international aid. However, some major donors, such as the World Bank, deplore the lack of reforms that are likely to reassure potential investors.
Also in the field of justice, criminal hearings have been restarted, very popular with the population, but the slower pace of the creation of the Special Criminal Court, a mixed court for the most serious crimes committed since 2003, leaves a bitter taste for the victims. This sense of impunity is further reinforced by the fact that the main leaders of armed groups have been integrated into the government as a result of the peace agreement, while their organizations have continued to commit atrocities on the ground and above all no one has little or no disarmed. By dismissing four of these warlords during his New Year’s speech on 31 December 2020, President Touadéra only confirmed a situation that could not continue, but the problem remains.
In 2016, after the Faustin-Archange Touadéra came to power, the issue of disarming the FACA encountered distrust among many international partners. In fact, entire arsenals have previously fallen into the hands of the rebels. But the Central African forces are in dire need of weapons, while the armed groups are strengthening without any problems and circumventing the embargo imposed in 2013 by the Security Council.
President Touadéra then chooses the path of bilateral negotiations with new partners and, in particular, Russia, with whom he initiates a process of military cooperation. Private Russian “instructors” were sent to Bangui in 2018, officially to provide FACA with further training. Very quickly, however, these instructors were suspected of being a part of Wagner company, a company of Russian mercenaries already operating in Syria or Sudan. The ambiguity maintained by the Russian authorities regarding the status of these forces and about the nature of the equipment sent to the ground will never be completely removed, as we have seen recently, with imbroglio on the dispatch, then the withdrawal announced helicopters and Russian “instructors” called for reinforcements during the election period.
►also read : what do we know about the Russian military presence in the Central African Republic?
France, a traditional partner, but also the United States and Britain, have expressed great concern over Russia’s entry into the Central African diplomatic game. Is it to meet the challenge? Paris responded by sharply increasing its development assistance in the country. But the former colonial power had to face many very virulent press campaigns and seems to have lost some of its influence. At the international level, in any case, President Touadera’s diplomatic activism has borne fruit. on several occasions, the arms embargo has been eased and weapons have been delivered to FACA. This week, the question of its repeal was again put to the Security Council, but the Central African Ministry of Foreign Affairs encountered the same reluctance.
As when he came to power in 2016, the re-elected president begins his new mandate with a situation of complex armed conflict in a country where diplomatic and military actors have been multiplied. Mathematics professor Faustin Archange Touadéra will definitely have to use all his science to solve this equation with several unknowns.