The popular story goes that the conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR) is as simple as Muslim versus Christian; Séléka versus anti-balaka. This dominant narrative often leads to equally simplistic peacebuilding responses. By presenting this as a religious war and ignoring the complexities, the real drivers of conflict will never be tackled.
As violence is persistent across the country, it is essential for those working for peace to understand how all parties to a conflict define the causes and drivers of that conflict.
In CAR, along with our partners, we spoke with commanders and rank-and-file members of various non-state armed groups, to ascertain their reasons for remaining in the groups and what would motivate them to leave. The majority of people we spoke to didn’t remain in armed groups because of ideological beliefs or political ambition, but because they had no viable alternatives.
Whilst former members of the Séléka militia may be predominantly Muslim, they are not all Muslim, and certainly not all Muslims support them. Likewise, the anti-balaka groups are diverse, including Christians, animists, Muslim groups and some ex- Séléka.
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