Central African Republic (MNN) — There’s a new leader at the helm of CAR. Faustin-Archange Touadera emerged the winner of peaceful elections held a couple of weeks ago.
On March 25, Touadera will officially be sworn in as President.
“Faustin is also a believer, and so we’re all very excited about that,” shares Jim Hocking, leader of Living Water International‘s in-country representative, Water for Good. They bring clean water and the Living Water of Christ to families throughout the country.
Touadera’s appointment is expected to end three years of political turmoil, but significant challenges remain.
“It’s positive that we’re moving back toward constitutional government,” the International Crisis Group’s Central Africa director recently told World Politics Review.
“But if this process is not done correctly, we may just see the same story emerging from CAR. A lot of the problems we see this time around are very familiar.”
Equally-troubling is a new United Nations (UN) report. Between January 2011 and December 2015, the UN documented the killing of 333 children and maiming of 589 others in communal violence.
“Not only were children brutalized with regard to being used in combat and as sex slaves, but they were also forced to perform various support roles, including as informants. Since 2014, children have been increasingly used to commit actions against civilians….
“On numerous occasions, armed men suspected to be anti-Balaka reportedly used children as shields while firing at [international] forces. The use of children as shields by anti-Balaka was also documented by the country task force in June 2015….
“Sexual violence was perpetrated by all parties to the conflict, with sexual violence against children by ex-Seleka and anti-Balaka forming part of a larger pattern of violations against civilians in areas under their control, particularly in 2014.”
Touadera vs. CAR challenges
The offenses outlined in this UN report are only a few of the challenges facing Touadera and the administration he appoints later this year.
During his campaign, Touadera promised to focus on a DDRR program (disarmament, demobilization, reintegration, repatriation) and the restructuring of CAR’s armed forces.
Following the ouster of former president Francois Bozize, CAR descended into chaos that killed thousands and drove nearly a million people from their homes.
Near the national capital, El Niño is presenting community hazards and economic challenges.
“There is a huge bush fire which is destroying lots of cassava gardens, lots of coffee gardens,” Hocking reports. “That’s ruining the economy of hundreds of farmers in that area because it’s gotten out of control.”
Without revenue they would normally receive from their gardens, many CAR congregations will be unable to pay for Water for Good’s well drilling and maintenance services. It doesn’t mean families won’t have access to clean water, though.
“We don’t fight fires…but we can at least continue to provide clean water for the people,” Hocking states.