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Tenuous Order Threatens Central African Republic’s Stability

Staff Sgt. Erik Cardenas, USAF / US Army Africa
Flickr Creative Commons

Continued conflict in Central African Republic is troubling world leaders and international peacekeepers. Six thousand African peacekeepers have been deployed to try to control the chaos that has enveloped Central African Republic, alongside 1,600 French soldiers.

Peacekeeping forces, however, have failed to stop killings and violence between Christian majority and Muslim minority groups in the country. Multiple reports cite murders occurring in the presence of peacekeeping forces.

An angry crowd brutally slayed a man moments after a speech by the president and other national VIPs.

“They lynched him, chopped him to pieces, burnt him with rubber tires, and people began cheering. The French peacekeepers came, but they didn’t know what to do,” says Joshua Landis, the author of Syria Comment and the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

Landis says that post-colonial nation building in an ethnically diverse state is extremely challenging and has been at the root of the conflict.  

“There are 80 different ethnic groups [in Central African Republic],” Landis says. “All of them speak different languages.[Central African Republic is] 80 percent Christian, 10 percent Muslim, ten percent animist, and there’s no central state. It’s one of the poorest places in the world and there has been just a revolving door of presidents.”

Suzette Grillot, Dean of the University of Oklahoma’s College of International Studies, says that grassroots efforts to construct community tolerance and interfaith relationships are necessary to construct “some sense of normalcy and development” in Central African Republic.”

“There are signs of hope,” Grillot says. “It was a sign of tremendous courage when a Catholic priest brought seven hundred Muslims to his church and had his congregation shake hands with this group of Muslim leaders and members of the community. It’s going to take efforts like that to help rebuild, reconstruct.” 


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