Central African Republic: An Introduction

23 September 2013 | ResolutionPossible

This is the start of a series of blogs about the Central African Republic (CAR), to complement the newly refreshed CAR page on our website. This blog offers a summary of the country’s background and key historical events. 

The Central African Republic, landlocked and roughly the size of France, has had numerous tribes and over 80 ethnicities co-existing for over 8,000 years. The CAR has considerable mineral reserves, notably diamond and timber, industries that are undermined by corruption.

Central African Republic

Central African Republic

The country has experienced continuing political instability. At the end of 19th century,  Belgium, Germany and France fought over the land that is now known as the Central African Republic, previously named Oubangui-Chari. France won the fight and the land became a French colony until 1960, when CAR gained independence. Since then, the nation has gone through numerous military coups and various failed attempts at democratic transition. There has been no consistent system of power for more than seven years since 1960.

In March 2013, the incumbent president Francois Bozizé fled the country after a one-day military coup, staged by the armed non-State alliance Seleka. Michel Djotodia, the former leader of Seleka and current president, promised to hold elections in 2016, announcing he will give up the presidency. He has also outlined various policies the new government intends to implement (watch for our upcoming blog focused on the coup d’état). In early September, Djotodia disbanded the Seleka alliance, stating that anyone who continued under the Seleka name would be punished.

International organisations have condemned the coup. The African Union suspended CAR’s membership while Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary General, called the transition an “unconstitutional seizure of power”.

Apart from the AU suspension, however, few external pressures have come against the transitional government – still headed by the democratically elected and internationally recognised Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye, despite the presidential replacement.

Even with its turbulent political history, ranking of 180/187 on the UN Human Development Index (making it one of the world’s least developed countries), and its heavy reliance on foreign aid, CAR has received limited attention from the international media.

With some analysts calling CAR the ‘forgotten country of central Africa’, our CAR series hopes to challenge this statement by encouraging dialogue about CAR and showing how the country links to our everyday lives. Upcoming blogs will include information about the key players in CAR, the recent political instability, the humanitarian situation, and the role of the UN.

In the meantime, you can find more detailed information on our CAR page. If you have any comments, suggestions or would like to contribute your own perspective, please contact us on contribute@resolutionpossible.org.

Contributing writers/research: Ally Clifton, Lauren Smith, Becky Dale

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