Central African Republic peace: The Bangui Forum

Report
from Conciliation Resources
Published on 07 May 2015 View Original

The Bangui National Forum opened this week in the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR). Its overall objective is to finalise a series of recommendations based on peace and security, justice and reconciliation, and economic and social development that will be a guiding instrument towards long-term peace and security in CAR. Almost 600 participants from around the country, including civil society actors, government representatives and non-armed state group members are spending this week in dialogue. The Bangui National Forum will finish on 11 May with the signing of an official peace accord.

But what does this mean to ordinary Central Africans? We asked six participants – men and women already engaged in activities to build peace in their own communities – for their views.

Godfrois Kassai
Member of a peace committee supported by Conciliation Resources in Bangui's 7th Arrondissement (neighbourhood), Ouango

What does the Bangui Forum mean to you?

The Forum is a crucial moment for politics and for the life of our country. We need it [the forum] to give us a sense of all being Central African together: we've been too divided for too long, and this is our big chance to all come back together again.

What is your vision for the future in CAR?

For my country to be a nation where all people greet each other in confidence and with mutual respect: a place where no region is abandoned and there is unity between all regions and peoples in CAR.

What does peacebuilding mean to you?

For me, peacebuilding is about every one of us Central Africans saying “I am building peace in my own community” and all of us acting on this initiative together; peace begins in our homes and our local communities.

What is your own contribution to peace in CAR?

My personal contribution is to be an active member of a local peace committee. We do activities that help reduce tensions and violence in our neighbourhoods. I am an artisan of peace! I ask my neighbours to do the same as we do in our committee: to love and to reconcile, because peace is also something contagious.

Cecile Gbabeze
Treasurer of the Carnot Dialogue Committee, supported by Conciliation Resources

What does the Bangui Forum mean to you?

The Bangui Forum gives us the chance to talk about the degradation of our country, and to search for long-term solutions. I'm really happy to be there because this is the first time I'm participating in a national forum so I can contribute to this telling of the truth, and seeking results together.

What is your vision for the future in CAR?

For my country and all her people to reclaim their lives, and for us to live in a country filled with love and mutual respect for each other.

What does peacebuilding mean to you?

'Peacebuilding’ is a long-term process that brings all kinds of people together on the same path collaborating towards peace.

What is your own contribution to peace in CAR?

To be in this forum. I'm also practising peace in my personal life, with my family - and with our Dialogue Committee in Carnot, where we are bringing different communities together for inter-communal dialogue in order to rebuild trust between our own communities in Carnot.

Arsene Gassy
Conciliation Resources’ Project Assistant in CAR

What does the Bangui Forum mean to you?

For us Central Africans, the Bangui Forum is like the survivor of a catastrophe finding a reason to smile! All of us have been waiting for this – having this forum is an expression of our humanity and the chance to live together again.

What is your vision for the future in CAR?

After all that has happened in our country, and the atrocities we've experienced, we are all Central Africans and the most important thing is to be united and for all of us to be proud of who we are.

What does peacebuilding mean to you?

Peacebuilding is about bringing different peoples' interests together. It's about talking, listening and debating, also challenging inequalities – and for everyone to feel safe to express whatever he or she thinks.

What is your own contribution to peace in CAR?

My contribution is to work on peacebuilding with Conciliation Resources and to share their vision of long-term peacebuilding in my country.

I work with the peace committees in Bangui and also outside in the provinces. One of the most important things about our work is we are ready to work with everyone who wants to work towards peace, whatever community they come from. We make no distinction.

Tatiana
Coordinator of Femmes Action Plus, a national NGO working on peace and development in CAR and one of Conciliation Resources’ partners

What does the Bangui Forum mean to you?

The Bangui Forum is a national conversation where we can acknowledge what has happened during this crisis and we can really begin to forgive each other – and begin relearning how to talk with each other, and just as important, to listen to each other.

What is your vision for the future in CAR?

As a young Central African woman my vision is for all of us Central Africans to work together for the mutual development of our country – we have many challenges but our country is naturally rich and if we can share the same vision we can really achieve something for our future.

What does peacebuilding mean to you?

Peacebuilding is about us being able to repair injuries, internal and external, to forgive each other, and to share a vision of consolidating our country despite all we've been through. This is especially true for our young people who've suffered so much [during this recent crisis].

What is your own contribution to peace in CAR?

To be an advocate for those Central Africans who are not heard – those who do not have a voice. Our NGO is a voice for the voiceless – like children who've been kidnapped by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in eastern CAR. We work with people, especially women and young people, at community level, who have no-one else to empower them, nor to speak with them for the changes they need in their own lives and their communities.

Gislaine
President of a peace committee in Bangui's 5th Arrondissement that is mentored and supported by Conciliation Resources

What does the Bangui Forum mean to you?

The Bangui Forum is a space for all Central Africans, for all the communities including Muslims and Christians, that will I hope make peace something definitive here in our country.

What is your vision for the future in CAR?

My vision is that peace will return to our country and Muslims and Christians will live together in the same communities again – and that it will help us rebuild the trust we have lost between us for too long now.

What does peacebuilding mean to you?

Peacebuilding for me is about activating peace amongst different communities, to bring us all together. Conciliation Resources supports our peace committee here in our local neighbourhood and we are reaching out to other young people through this committee: we've just opened a youth office in our Arrondissement for example that is open for all young people across our local community.

What is your own contribution to peace in CAR?

My own contribution towards peace is awareness-raising, especially amongst young people who've been so severely affected by the [recent] crisis. We need to support them and help them build their visions for the future without violence.