For a moment last week, it looked as though the people of the Central African Republic (CAR) were getting some much-needed good news. Representatives from two rebel groups, the mainly Muslim Séléka and the mainly Christian anti-Balaka, whose fighting has displaced more than a quarter of the CAR’s population since March of last year, signed a cease-fire agreement.
The signing, in the nearby Republic of the Congo, should have been cause for celebration. But inside the CAR, the reaction was muted. Perhaps it’s because Central Africans have seen this show before.
The history of the CAR, and those of many of its neighbors, is replete with barely maintained cease-fire agreements marking the first step in negotiations that hand power to those whose claim to leadership is really just the strength of the firepower they wield. Today’s rebels become tomorrow’s leaders. It’s a cycle that never ends well.