Statement from civil society in the Central African Republic

11 January 2013

On 30 December 2012, civil society organisations operating in the CAR published a statement on the current security crisis in the country as a result of armed rebels attacking and capturing towns and villages. Since 10 December 2012, violence has escalated in the Central African Republic (CAR), where a coalition of rebel groups operating under the name of ‘Seleka’ has been advancing on Bangui, the capital of the country. Composed of at least three different rebel groups that have been operating in northern CAR since 2003, Seleka has captured four strategically important cities, including Kago-Bandoro, Ndele, Bria, and Bambari, as well as about a dozen smaller villages. The group claims that the Government has failed to abide by peace agreements signed between 2007 and 2011, and is calling for the execution of the Disarmament, Demobilisation, and Reintegration program (DDR); the implementation of recommendations resulting from the Inclusive Political Dialogue; the amendment of the Constitution; and the resignation of President François Bozizé.

The statement released by civil society organisations is critical of the use of force in the context of the current conflict, and condemns the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity in cities occupied by Seleka, including pillaging, the systematic disruption of means of communication, physical and sexual violence, and arbitrary arrests, noting that these are crimes within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC).  Civil society groups are calling for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire, inclusive dialogue, the protection of the civilian population, the opening of humanitarian corridors, and the involvement of civil society in the peace process.

On 2 January 2013, a spokesperson for Seleka announced that the group had halted its advance on the capital city of Bangui and was receptive to peace talks with the CAR Government.  Peace Talks began on 10 January in Libreville, Gabon.

The Women’s Initiatives has been working in CAR since 2006 and has held consultations, training workshops, and public marches in support of victims/survivors and advocating for gender justice. In 2011, in collaboration with local partner, JUPEDEC, and international partner, WITNESS, we co-produced a gender justice video on the impact of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) on the south eastern provinces of CAR. The LRA does not appear to be a member of the Seleka coalition.

Read the statement from CAR civil society in French.

Read an informal translation of the statement in English.

Read In Pursuit of Peace (p 25-33) for statements from victims groups and women’s rights organizations in CAR calling for the implementation of the recommendations created during the Inclusive Political Dialogue.

For background information on the Situation in the CAR before the ICC and the case against Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, see the Gender Report Card on the ICC.

For updates about the situation in CAR, follow us @4GenderJustice