Violence has subsided in the Central African Republic’s capital of Bangui after a week of conflict, but the lack of security and an ineffective justice system are enduring problems, a relief worker in the country has said.
“A tense calm prevails over Bangui, as it has for many months, interspersed with violent spells,” Leann Hager, Catholic Relief Services’ country representative in the Central African Republic, said.
Monday marked “the start, albeit slow, of the return to normal,” she said.
Last week, the Central African Republic’s capital of Bangui became the scene of clashes involving heavy gunfire and explosions. The violence was triggered by a grenade attack that injured several pedestrians, the BBC reports.
Violence broke out in Central African Republic in December 2012. Seleka rebels, loosely organized groups that drew primarily Muslim fighters from other countries, ousted the president and installed their own leader in a March 2013 coup.
The Seleka were officially disbanded, but its members continued to commit crimes such as pillaging, looting, rape and murder.
In September 2013, after 10 months of terrorism at the hands of the Seleka, “anti-balaka” self-defense groups began to form. The anti-balaka picked up momentum in November, and the conflict in the nation took on a sectarian character, as some anti-balaka, many of whom are Christian, began attacking Muslims out of revenge for the Seleka’s acts.
As the conflict continued, it crossed political, tribal, and religious groups, leaving thousands dead and more than 1 million displaced.
Despite a ceasefire signed in July 2014 and the implementation of a transitional government, the country has yet to achieve lasting peace and stability.
The most recent fighting in Bangui left at least 10 people dead, including three children. A U.N. humanitarian official told Reuters that children have been used to man several barricades in the capital.
Hager said the national capital of Bangui suffered sporadic violence for a week, but the political standstill is “ostensibly over” now that anti-Balaka rebels have withdrawn their demands for the president’s resignation. After negotiations, anti-Balaka commander Patrice Ngaissona is being brought into the government and two imprisoned anti-Balaka individuals will be released.