The Central African Republic experienced unprecedented violence between 2012 and 2014. We analyse three recent ruptures that developed as a result of this crisis, suggesting a break with the country's past. First, the Séléka rebellion that started in 2012; second, the establishment of a robust UN Peacekeeping mission in 2014; and finally, the democratic election of a civilian president in 2016. However, three deep-rooted patterns of governance have in each case transformed these ruptures. A history of outsourced politics, a plurality of violence and peripheral neglect push actors to perpetuate the violent past rather than breaking with it. We conclude that after an initial attempt to break with the CAR's long-term political economic trends, rebel groups, the UN mission and the democratic government have backtracked and now risk reinforcing the violence that mark politics and everyday life in the country.