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CAR - Developments - 2016

Candidates Faustin Touadera and Anicet Dologuele received enough voter support to advance to a second round of the Central African Republic's presidential race, results released 01 January 2015 showed. The counting of ballots was continuing in Bangui, the capital, but with roughly two-thirds of them tallied, Touadera, a former prime minister in the government of ousted president Francois Bozize, led with 31,000 votes. Dologuele, also a former prime minister, had garnered 28,000 votes.

Former prime minister Faustin Archange Touadera was in the lead to become the Central African Republics next president, initial election results showed. A quarter of the votes in the Central African Republics elections had been counted as of 04 January 2016, with Faustin Archange Touadera, who served as prime minister under long-running President Francois Bozize, the current favorite of thirty candidates.

The top two presidential hopefuls went head to head in a run-off election on 14 February 2016. Former Prime Minister Faustin Archange Touaderas campaign made much of his record as prime minister between 2008 and 2013, when he is said to have fought corruption and paid salaries regularly. The other former prime minister in the runoff, Anicet Georges Dologuele, agreed to a political pact last year with former President Francois Bozize, which helped him win the first round of the election in December with 23 percent of the vote. But only three of the 29 other candidates in that round have said they would back Dologuele in round two, while 20 have said they would back Touadera, who finished second in the first round with 19 percent support.

Faustin Archange Touadera was declared the winner of the February 14 presidential election on 20 February 2016. Marie Madeleine Nkoet, president of the national election authority, said Touadera had come in first with 695,000 votes, or 62.7 percent. Georges Anicet Dologuele, who came in first in the first round, obtained just over 413,000 votes in the runoff, or 37.3 percent, she said. Out of 1.95 million registered voters, 1.15 million cast ballots, about 59 percent.

France will stop military operations in the Central African Republic later in 2016 after France's defense minister said March 30, 2016 its objectives had been achieved. The mission, dubbed Operation Sangaris, began in 2013 as the country was being consumed by ethnic violence between Christians and Muslims and people were dying by the thousands. "The country was in the throes of civil war, torn by religious tensions, plagued by chaos, on the brink of pre-genocidal scenarios. In the space of two years, the Sangaris force restored calm and prevented the unacceptable, Jean-Yves Le Drian said before a group of French soldiers stationed at the MPoko airport.

The pullout of French troops would coincide with the build-up of a coalition force of 12,000 troops from the United Nations and European Union. About 300 French troops will stay in the country and be part of the coalition force.

Insecurity persisted in the months since President Faustin-Archange Touadra assumed office in March 2016, after winning an election intended to draw a line under inter-communal and inter-religious violence that involved the mainly Muslim Seleka and began in 2013.

In February 2016 armed Fulani (Peulh) herders, at times supported by ex-Seleka and anti-Balaka fighters, attacked civilians along a corridor used for the seasonal movement of livestock in the central regions, leading to temporary mass displacement of populations in the towns of Kouango, Kaga Bandoro, and Batangafo.

Attacks by armed groups resulted in numerous civilian casualties. For example, on 05 January 2016, outside the village of Pakam, in Nana Mambere Prefecture, armed Peulh affiliated with the 3R group led by self-proclaimed Colonel Siddiki reportedly shot and killed a civilian before burning the body. The same group allegedly was responsible for the death of two men on 21 March 2016 during an attack on the village of Ngouvota, near Kaga Bandoro. On March 4, members of the ex-Seleka UPC allegedly killed three women from the same family who were returning from their fields five miles from Bambari; the killings were in retaliation for the deaths of two UPC members.

Beginning in May localized communal violence increased in the North. The movement of nomadic herders in the Northwest sparked tensions, including in Ngaoundaye, in Pende, Ouham Prefecture, after a refusal by residents to allow herders to cross their land. Violence in Ngaoundaye on June 15 resulted in at least 10 deaths, destroyed houses, and the displacement of thousands of persons to surrounding towns, as well as to neighboring Cameroon and Chad, according to the United Nations.

In June and July 2016, a series of attacks by armed groups occurred in and outside of Bangui. On June 20, for example, armed fighters clashed with MINUSCA soldiers in Banguis PK-5 area, which resulted in the deaths of six armed men and 15 civilians. On June 24, unidentified assailants killed a Senegalese peacekeeper. In early July 2016 clashes between the different ex-Seleka factions in Kaga Bandoro forced civilians to seek protection in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) protected by international forces. Since mid-June the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) registered more than 6,000 new refugees from the Central African Republic in Chad and Cameroon. On September 16, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported attacks in Kouango that resulted in 19 deaths, 380 houses burned, and populations from 11 villages fleeing.

The LRA also killed civilians during the year, targeting in particular the Haute-Kotto and Mbomou prefectures. Attacks against civilians since the beginning of the year included killings, abductions, and GBV. Between January and April, the LRA abducted more than 290 persons, including 60 children. Thousands of civilians were displaced.

By mid-2016 there were more than 418,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), approximately 36,000 civilians trapped in enclaves, and more than 480,000 refugees in neighbouring countries, a large number of whom are Muslim.

On 26 July 2016 the UN Security Council urged "the CAR authorities to urgently implement a genuine and inclusive reconciliation in the CAR, including by addressing marginalization and local grievances of all the components of society over the whole territory of the CAR, including through national policies on economic development and civil service recruitment, and to promote reconciliation initiatives at the regional, national, prefectural and local levels, including through local elections..."

The Security Council decided to extend the mandate of MINUSCA until 15 November 2017. It also decided that MINUSCA had an authorized troop ceiling of 10,750 military personnel, including 480 Military Observers and Military Staff Officers, 2,080 police personnel, including 400 Individual Police Officers, as well as 108 corrections officers, and recalled its intention to keep this number under continuous review in particular for the additional troops authorized by resolutions 2212 (2015) and 2264 (2016).

Operation Sangaris, launched in December 2013 to buttress 12,000 UN troops sent to stabilise the country, had some 2,500 troops at its peak. France on 31 October 2016 formally ended a peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic, hailing it a success despite sporadic outbreaks of violence in its deeply troubled former colony. The move came just hours after a dozen people were killed in clashes between armed groups in the restive Muslim PK5 neighborhood of the capital Bangui, according to local sources. The toll had yet to be confirmed by the 10,000-strong UN force MINUSCA, which will be alone after France's departure in facing the militia groups terrorising civilians.

Between November 28 and 30 2016, skirmishes erupted between two groups(Seleka factions that fought the Popular Front for the Renassaince in the Central African Republic (Front Populaire pour la Renassaince de la Centrafrique, FPRC), and the Union for Peace in the Central African Republic (l'Union pour la Paix en Centrafrique, UPC) over control of roads leading to diamond mines around Kalaga, a town 45 kilometers from Bria, where both factions collect road taxes, especially in mining areas and on migration routes for Peuhl herders which have left at least 115 combatants on both sides dead.

Armed groups flourished over the years given the weakness of the state. Among the main culprits were factions from the mostly Muslim former Seleka rebel force, and the Christian "anti-Balaka" militias, a reference to the machetes used by the rebels. There are also vigilante groups made up of nomadic, predominantly Muslim Fulani herders, as well as others specialising in highway robbery.

In December 2016, the MINUSCA Mission supported a new dialogue between 11 of the 14 armed groups, as part of an ongoing effort to disarm the factions in CAR.



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