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The Red Herring of Identity in Africa: Using Identity Conflicts to Capture State Power and Inculcate Economic Avarice in the Central African Republic

  • Wendy Isaacs-MartinEmail author
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Abstract

Africa’s conflicts are projected overwhelmingly as located in identity rather than economic complexity of resource extraction and socio-political control. As a departure the conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR) that began in 2013 was and remains projected as a simplistic binary religious confrontation that resulted in the degeneration of a weak state into a fragile state controlled by a myriad of warlords overseeing loosely affiliated militias and temporary coalitions along with private security companies and armies. Within such an anarchic chaotic environment absent of effective legitimate political authority and leadership, and thus ineffective state coercion leaves space for parasitic resource extraction and informal economies of scale. Issues of African indirect economies and identity conflicts are seldom synthesised but seen as two distinct rather than consonance issues. The conflict in CAR represents a cyclical juggernaut of continuous violence that enriches stakeholders that are distinct from the state and extracts resources under the cover of violence and threat. The guise of identity is secondary, dynamic to the interests of external stakeholders, and the use of armed combatants enflames existing identity tensions stoking fear, distrust and destruction of existing property and space that prevents groups/villagers from residing in particular areas. The question posed is can CAR become an ideal-type state in the foreseeable future? The conclusion drawn is that civilian violence under the auspices of identity conflict masks the ambitions of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), warlords, private companies and foreign government interests.

Keywords

CAR Identity Conflict Resource extraction Manipulation 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Archie Mafeje Research Institute at UNISAPretoriaSouth Africa

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