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The transition from crisis to a somewhat more stable situation in the car was counter-balanced by serious confrontations between both the Chadian and Cameroonian security forces and the originally Nigeria-based Boko Haram insurgency and continued armed confrontations in the eastern drc, though arguably of less intensity than in the past. Heads of state in the sub-region proved particularly stubborn in trying to maintain their grip on power, although elections were held in only one country in the sub-region. Historically low prices for crude oil on the world market hit the oil exporting countries severely. Among the sub-regional organisations, cemac relocated its headquarter back to Bangui (car) and gave up plans for a sub-regional airline, while ceeac confirmed its status as the most important international forum in Central Africa.

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The sub-region continued to undergo various crises, given the spill over from the Darfur conflict into neighbouring Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR) and the ongoing conflicts in eastern DR Congo and Burundi. Violent attempts to topple the regimes in Chad and Equatorial Guinea failed before they really unfolded. The simultaneous double-digit growth in the same two CEMAC countries was the most positive news. However, achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 remained beyond the reach of all the countries in the sub-region. Once again, a particular concern in the region was the protection of the environment, more especially the forests of the Congo Basin. No particular progress was recorded in the area of democratisation.

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The sub-region was arguably still the most unstable part of the continent, particularly when taking into account the spill-over effects of the Darfur crisis on Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR). Major new outbreaks of older armed conflicts in both Chad and CAR counterbalanced the positive developments in DR Congo, while widespread violence continued throughout different zones of the biggest country of the sub-region. The growing interest in Africa's mineral resources also had an impact in Central Africa, where major oil and gas deposits are located. Visits by Chinese officials confirmed this growing interest and were welcomed by national governments. However, only a few countries could yet claim steady economic growth.

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Some major reform steps by Prime Minister Elie Doté's government secured the award of a much-needed PRGF with the IMF in December. This could not immediately benefit the population, which has suffered through ten years of instability and insecurity. The entire northern part of the country was not safe from incursions by rebel groups and indiscriminate counter-attacks by government forces. In October, the outright capture by rebel groups of the provincial capital of Birao in the northeast sent a strong signal to Bangui. Security concerns dominated public debate during the year.

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With the car crisis and Boko Haram spilling over into Cameroon and Chad, security issues were again impacting on the lives of many people and were also high on the agenda of Central Africa’s decision-makers. Both aspects showed how permeable frontiers were and how strongly crises in the neighbourhood could affect the entire sub-region.

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The car witnessed another difficult year, starting with more armed violence throughout the country, including in the capital, Bangui. But a change in the interim leadership, massive deployment of peacekeepers and some initial negotiations between belligerents provided hope. Without the strong engagement of the international community it would have been impossible to lower tensions and mitigate the humanitarian crisis. A ceasefire agreement was signed, albeit not a full peace agreement, which seemed difficult to reach in light of the lack of cohesion of the various armed movements. The mostly Muslim Séléka alliance split into three major factions, and the Christian anti-Balaka movement was even more decentralised – local militias used the label, but would not obey orders from self-proclaimed leaders. International efforts to involve former presidents Bozizé and Djotodia in peace talks surprised the interim government in Bangui and appeared inconsistent with the sanctions regime.

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This was a year of progress towards the end of a prolonged transition from civil unrest to democratic rule and limited stability, despite the general precariousness of all achievements. A peace forum and the referendum on a new constitution prepared the ground for holding the first round of presidential and legislative elections shortly before the end of the year. However, renewed hostilities in the centre of the country around Bambari and Kaga-Bandoro and above all a number of serious confrontations in the capital Bangui reminded both the population and the international community that the overall situation remained volatile.

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The government left most efforts to reconquer territory from diverse armed groups to its private Russian ally (Wagner Group), which was accused of atrocities by many sides. After holding a stage-managed, partly boycotted ‘republican dialogue’, President Faustin-Archange Touadéra felt strong enough to push for constitutional reform that was mostly meant to allow him to stand for a third term in elections as remote as 2025. He met with stiff opposition from the constitutional court, which was itself targeted by the president and his supporters. The head of the UN peace operation deplored the lethargy of the peace process. Economic crisis and fuel and food shortages hit the population, with a growing proportion at risk of severe malnutrition.

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Half of the countries in Central Africa continued to face violent conflicts, with no major positive developments on record. Political theatre – with ‘national dialogues’ being held in car and Chad and elections, such as those in Congo and Equatorial Guinea, whose outcomes were simply not credible – undermined rather than strengthened democracy. Some economic recovery after the end of the Covid-19 pandemic (and the counter-measures to control it) was tangible in most countries. The prospect of a merger of three sub-regional organisations into a single one created some hope of greater effectiveness on a supranational level.

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A major military effort by combined rebel forces, fought back to an extent by government troops but mostly by their international allies and the UN peacekeeping mission, failed to topple the government in January. Most rebel movements allied within the Coalition des patriotes pour le changement (cpc) thereafter witnessed defections and were on the defensive against the government army, which received military support from a (semi-)private Russian mercenary group and – for half a year – the Rwandan army. The announcement of the results of presidential and legislative elections held at the end of 2020 (and by-elections in May and July) confirmed the dominance of President Touadéra and his camp, but also created new frictions within the political elite. The UN authorities complained about the misbehaviour of all armed actors. The government faced the freezing of budgetary aid and was unable to start major reconstruction projects; it even had trouble funding its state apparatus. While the number of refugees grew, the number of idps went down after an initial surge in the first months of the year.