Will Catherine Samba-Panza, the elected interim president of the Central African Republic (CAR), manage to stop the bloodshed between Christians and Muslims, and bring peace and reconciliation to her country, before 2015, when the next presidential elections are scheduled?
Africans give their perspectives.
Farhan Hassan, 39, freelance researcher, from Somalia, based in London
Whether Samba-Panza has what it takes is not certainly the issue. Rather the current CAR’s political debate should be asking whether all stakeholders’ particularly Muslim and Christian brothers and sisters in CAR are ready to give peace and reconciliation a chance or not. Inflicting gross pain and stress to one another because of religious affiliation or otherwise is a plain wrong and a seed for atrocity that can lead to genocide.
With the support of all stakeholders, Samba-Panza can sow the seeds of reconciliation such as fairness, justice, mercy, and most importantly restoring law and order in CAR and the region. Peace of CAR is too fractured and the trust between different stakeholders is too crushed. Therefore, without disarms militia and rejecting state where war or terrorizing one another is the norm then there can never be a peace and prosperity in CAR. As result, the important task should be to create atmosphere of trust and harmony in CAR and the region that can not only create absence of violence (negative peace) but also no worries in mind (positive peace) among fellow CAR citizen and beyond.
Without this, unfortunately CAR will be another failed or fragile African state controlled by competing forces and factions. This scenario is not in anyone’s interest.
Zoumalde Toussaint Jean Marius, 42, radio station director, based in Bouar, Central African Republic
Catherine Samba-Panza, being a woman who did not participate directly in the management of the country in the past, can bring peace and reconciliation in the country. Why? Simply because the image of woman as a mother who nourishes and protects, remains intact in the collective African consciousness. When there is a problem and women stand to react or protest, men open ears and listen. Male politicians have failed miserably since 1960. So to write a new page in the history of CAR, a female figure must be chosen for the transition. She was chosen not only for her business skills, but also because there was a lobbying wanted to turn the page of the history of CAR’s politics.
Her greatest advantage is that she is not part of the corrupt political landscape of CAR, so she does not have her hands tied. Thus, she will make decisions for the common good. For example, she just asked ex-FACA [the country’s military] to return to their barracks for the multinational forces will need their support in terms of knowledge on the ground. If she wants to succeed in managing the transition, she should have a certain degree of intransigence in the manner of the Roman dictators in times of crisis. She has an extremely short time and her success will depend on how she will manage it.
Habibatou Gologo, 41, journalist and blogger, based in Dakar, Senegal
Catherine Samba-Panza is a consensual choice after all the atrocities committed in CAR and experienced by people whose tolerance seems to have been exceeded.
Her choice is also a need to look elsewhere. [color=green]Inevitably, when men fail, they turn to women. They do this in this kind of crisis to heal the wounds, pick up the pieces, and why not, to bamboozle. I say this because Ms. Samba-Panza was highly publicized until her swearing in and until the appointment of a Prime Minister. But not so much afterward.
Being a neutral person, the choice of Catherine Samba-Panza was therefore necessary. She can bring peace and reconciliation because she is not affiliated with any of the groups in the conflict. Her career is also an advantage because she will need all her experience, to be heard by all parties.
Her task will be difficult. To succeed, all actors in the crisis have to decide to terminate it. Central African civil society will also play a big role in identifying evil and proposing solutions for effective and lasting reconciliation.