The upcoming 2020 presidential election in the Central African Republic (CAR) has the potential to derail the implementation of the 2019 Khartoum Peace Agreement and bring about a return to widespread conflict.

In recent months, the political climate in CAR has become increasingly tense ahead of the presidential elections, scheduled to take place in December 2020. The recent return of former President François Bozizé and Michel Djotodia, the man who led the Séléka to overthrow him in 2013, to the country has caused particular concern. Djotodia remains the political head of CAR’s main armed rebel group, the Popular Front for the Rebirth of the Central African Republic (FPRC), which maintains control over much of the northeast of the country, while Bozizé still has a considerable level of support among the army. Bangui, CAR’s capital city, has also seen a violent demonstration by new political formations citing government’s failure to deliver on promises articulated in the 2019 Khartoum Peace Agreement.

In addition to negotiating a contentious election, CAR faces a number of intersecting challenges. The country’s humanitarian crisis is dire, with at least 697 000 citizens internally displaced and 2.6 million in need of some form of humanitarian assistance. Since January, there has been increased fighting between armed groups, which has led some INGOs to suspend their activities in the region due to safety concerns. While the country has only recorded four COVID-19 deaths, 1,300 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed and the states’ weak health system could easily be overrun if case number surge.

In light of the above challenges, and as part of the IJR’s ongoing project to support peace and reconciliation in CAR, IJR took part in a recent virtual roundtable organised by the Egmond Royal Institute for International Relations in April 2020. The objective of the meeting was to identify and develop responses to potential risk factors posed by elections to CAR’s ongoing peace process and was attended by a range of INGOs, as well as European Union, United Nations, and other government stakeholders.

A policy brief co-authored by IJR and capturing the findings and recommendations can be found here: http://www.egmontinstitute.be/going-the-extra-mile-for-the-2020-elections-in-the-central-african-republic/

Stephen Buchanan-Clarke

Picture credit: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters