This article seeks to go beyond the popular “Silencing the Guns” narrative. Regional and international initiatives towards finding a durable peace in central Africa focus on ceasefires without paying sufficient attention to what fuels the conflict. One or all opposing sides use guns to challenge, silence, or defend economic interests; this includes governments of countries in the central Africa region. In essence, material wealth underlies the conflict or tension in the region.
The Reconstructed Scenario below is based on the following judgments:
- Increasing or maintaining economic benefits informs the decision to acquire and use guns;
- It is almost certain that the pursuit and maintenance of wealth maintains the cycle of violence in the central Africa region;
- There is a greater chance for peace in the region if what motivates individuals and groups to acquire and use guns is addressed.
The following countries have experienced conflicts since their independence: Central African Republic (CAR), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Republic of Congo, Republic of Cameroon, and Chad. All of them experienced conflict within the last decade. All these conflicts fall within the scope of power or wealth — politics or economics. The governments of these countries, warlords or extremists, and rebel or opposition groups have either:
- Used the wealth from natural resources to purchase arms in order to stay in control, challenge incumbent authorities, or deter potential offensives; or
- Launched an offensive or maintained a defense to take control or safeguard resources such as mines and oil wells.
It is vital to note that the economies in central Africa are highly dependent on the wealth from the extractive industry, while agriculture comes second.