image of a compass
NDI

The National Democratic Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.

Central African Republic

CAR-flag-raising.jpg

The Central African Republic (CAR) is recovering from  violence and armed conflict that broke out in 2013 between Muslim and Christian communities. As of July 2015, nearly one million people – or 20 percent of the country’s population – were displaced and more than 6,000 had been killed. A transitional government established in 2014 helped restore security and state authority, with the assistance of a United Nations (U.N.) peacekeeping mission. In December 2015, voters approved a new constitution in a referendum, and shortly thereafter returned to the polls to elect a new president in a largely peaceful process. The new president, Faustin Archange Touadéra, won 63% of the vote in a February 2016 runoff election. Legislative elections proved more challenging; numerous irregularities and the resulting invalidation of results led to four successive legislative elections in the space of three months in late 2015 and early 2016. On the whole, however, the electoral process has been accepted as a peaceful and credible first step to establishing the legitimacy of new political institutions. 

One of the new government’s top priorities is to undertake reconciliation efforts and ensure a widespread and lasting peace. While inter-communal clashes continue to take place, they have been less deadly and destructive. President Touadéra is committed to talks with armed groups and a disarmament, demobilization, reintegration, and repatriation (DDRR) process, and international peacekeepers are still present in the country.

An important aspect of reconciliation is to create avenues for citizens to engage with new democratic institutions and policymakers to share grievances in a constructive way. CAR has been ruled by autocratic and ineffective regimes, and in consequence, has little history of constructive interaction between the populace and government officials or elected representatives. The lack of communications infrastructure and the absence of state institutions in parts of CAR exacerbate some citizens’ disaffection from their government. Community-based entities such as local peace committees, are well-positioned to foster the citizen engagement needed to render the new Central African government more responsive and able to sustain peaceful dialogue about citizens’ needs. 

  Subscribe to updates about the CAR via RSS

Country page tabs

Promoting Social Cohesion and Building Peace

Since 2014, NDI has assisted grassroots civil society organizations in CAR to stimulate discussion of shared democratic values and foster peaceful intergroup relations among marginalized and conflict-affected Central African communities. NDI’s three civic partners -- Women, Action and Development in Central Africa (FADEC), the Central African League for Human Rights (LCDH), and the Central African Organization for the Promotion of Riverine Initiatives (OCAPIF) -- have together established more than 45 local peace and reconciliation committees in communities in and around Bangui, Lobaye prefecture, and Nana-Mambéré prefecture. These committees, each comprising a representative cross-section of citizens committed to conflict prevention, are a mechanism for proactively mitigating conflict at the community level. Among other accomplishments, they have negotiated access to a health clinic for a minority pygmy population that had previously had limited access; fostered a welcoming attitude for returning refugees; convinced teachers and doctors to provide services without prejudice to returning refugees; and held reconciliation ceremonies that brought together leaders who were previously in conflict.

NDI has also worked with its civic partners and the peace committees to organize awareness-raising and reconciliation events. Soccer matches, dance competitions, cultural exchanges, skits, debates, discussions, and other fun community events bring together members of groups that do not normally intermingle and foster a sense of shared community and appreciation for each others’ cultures, efforts, and points of view. NDI has also helped its partners to produce radio programs promoting social cohesion and discussing shared democratic values. 

Fostering Local Solutions

Local peace and reconciliation committees are promising vehicles for fostering citizen engagement and helping  institutions respond to citizens’ needs. NDI and its partners have assisted more than a dozen communities to hold forums in which citizens discussed their main concerns and suggested possible solutions. The committees in these locations are holding regular follow-up meetings with local decision-makers -- traditional leaders, mayors, prefects, and others -- to ensure that these concerns and recommendations are addressed. FADEC, LCDH and OCAPIF are also advocating for the integration of these local priorities in national-level decision-making through advocacy at the National Assembly.

Supporting Transparent and Inclusive Elections

NDI assisted the National Elections Observatory (ONE), a coalition of 80 civil society groups, to observe the post-transition electoral process. The Institute assisted ONE to develop election observation tools and train and deploy 230 citizen observers for the December 30 presidential election. They observed in all six regions and the eight districts of Bangui. ONE’s final observation report included recommendations on ways to improve security and efficiency at polling stations on election day, and ways to encourage voter turnout. NDI trained 1422 political party pollwatchers from two parties ahead of the February 14 presidential runoff election. NDI also assisted FADEC, LCDH, and OCAPIF to conduct voter and civic education efforts in their target regions through radio, skits, and public discussions. 

In early 2016, NDI trained the Cadre de Concertation -- a group of representatives from the government, political parties, and civil society -- on how to monitor and report on parties’ compliance with a code of conduct governing political parties’ behavior during the electoral period. NDI also supported a media campaign to explain to the public what political parties and candidates had committed to by signing the code. NDI broadcast radio- and television-based public service announcements and skits to provide reminders throughout the election process of parties’ and candidates’ commitments to peaceful polls. Knowing about the code of conduct and seeing parties adhere to its terms reinforced public confidence in the overall electoral process and encouraged stakeholders to accept the institutions that emerged from it.

 

Funding

NDI’s recent programs in the Central African Republic are funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 

Contact Information

For more information about these programs, use our contact form or contact:

Washington, D.C.
Grant Godfrey, Senior Program Manager
(202) 728-5546

 

News and Views
10/06/2015 | All Africa
News and Views:
Resource
09/25/2014
Resource: Press Room
News and Views
09/03/2014 | Reuters
News and Views:
Published Publication Title Author
03/06/2014 Equal Access: How to Include Persons with Disabilities in Elections and Political Processes
Manual|Handbook
National Democratic Institute, International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)
10/23/2013 Increasing Women’s Political Participation Through Effective Training Programs: A Guide to Best Practices and Lessons Learned
Training Manual
National Democratic Institute
04/03/2012 Declaration of Global Principles for Nonpartisan Election Observation and Monitoring by Citizen Organizations and Code of Conduct for Nonpartisan Citizen Election Observers and Monitors
Declaration
10/31/2011 Empowering Women for Stronger Political Parties: A Good Practices Guide to Promote Women's Political Participation (Now available in Burmese)
Manual|Handbook
Julie Ballington
01/24/2011 National Elections Observatory’s Statement on the January 23, 2011 Election (CAR)
Statement
National Elections Observatory (Observatoire National des Elections - ONE)
11/02/2010 Preliminary Statement on Voter Registration in the Central African Republic
Statement
National Elections Observatory
09/01/2010 Capsules D'Information et de Sensibilisation sur le Processus Electoral en Republique Centrafricaine
Manual|Handbook
L'Observatoire National des Elections (ONE) & National Democratic Institute
12/01/2008 NDI Reports: A Review of the Activities of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs
Newsletter
National Democratic Institute
10/27/2005 Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation and Code of Conduct for International Election Observers
Manual|Handbook
05/01/2004 Legislative Public Outreach on Poverty Issues, Parliaments and Poverty Series, Toolkit No. 3
Manual|Handbook
National Democratic Institute United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
05/01/2004 Parliamentary-Civic Collaboration for Monitoring Poverty Reduction Initiatives, Parliaments and Poverty Series, Toolkit No. 2
Manual|Handbook
National Democratic Institute United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
05/01/2004 Legislative-Executive Communication on Poverty Reduction Strategies, Parliaments and Poverty Series, Toolkit No. 1
Manual|Handbook
National Democratic Institute United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
01/01/2000 Rapport Atelier D'évaluation du Processus Electoral en R.C.A.
Report
National Democratic Institute
01/01/1997 Political Parties and the Transition To Democracy: A Primer in Democratic Party-Building for Leaders, Organizers and Activists
Manual|Handbook
National Democratic Institute
07/25/1995 Political Internationals and Francophone Africa, July 20-21, 1995, Bangui, CAR, July 24-26, 1995, Brazzaville, Congo, Mission Re
Report
National Democratic Institute
10/10/1994 Inter-regional Seminar for Multiparty Legislatures in Emerging Democracies, October 10-13, 1994, Bangui, CAR, Debriefing and Ana
Report
National Democratic Institute