Perspectives of Non-State Armed Groups in the CAR
In December 2016, Conciliation Resources brought out a new report on what motivates individuals to remain in armed groups in the Central African Republic. The report is based on the perspectives of 70 commanders and rank and file representatives from armed groups previously part of the Séléka coalition, Anti-balaka (local protection militias established in response to the Seleka coalition), and members of self-defence groups in predominantly Muslim neighbourhoods. The interviews proved (i) the motivations which persuaded individuals to stay with an armed group (ii) the factors which could persuade individuals to leave a group and abandon violence (iii) the role of the Government and the international community in resolving the violence and (iv) personal reflections on the situation in CAR.
The main findings of the report are as follows:-
1. A mutual need for security and fear of attack are the primary factors keeping individuals within Anti-balaka and ex-Séléka and self-defence groups.
2. For many, personal and pragmatic interests – including the personal desire for revenge – are stronger incentives to remain in a group than the ideology or collective ambition of the group
3. DDRR and reconciliation efforts led by the Government and the international community are cited by many as the route by which they will leave armed groups, but expectations of the processes vary and trust in them is low.
On the basis of these findings, the authors of the report find that there are significant challenges to implementing successful DDRR in the country. The report ends by recommending the utilisation of local peace cells in order to convene dialogue and reconciliation and prepare for the DDRR process. It recommends that careful consideration must be given to how the DDRR process is communicated to armed groups, in order to manage expectations and encourage people to engage in reconciliation and dialogue. It also recommends that local community groups work to prepare communities for the return of fighters, with specific provision given for female combatants.