Coup d’état in the Central African Republic

9 October 2013 | ResolutionPossible

In early 2013, the coalition of armed groups called Seleka enacted a coup, ousting the incumbent president François  Bozizé, who fled to Cameroon.

This is the second part of our series on the Central African Republic (CAR), which will look at the main actors involved in the coup and what has happened in the six months since. For an overview of the country, read our introductory blog.

A coup d’état in the Central African Republic

Djotodia at a rally in downtown Bangui March 30, 2013 | Photo: Reuters/Alain Amontchi

Djotodia at a rally in downtown Bangui March 30, 2013 | Photo: Reuters/Alain Amontchi

March 24th, 2013 saw the armed alliance Seleka, led by Michel Djotodia, take over Bangui, the capital of CAR, in a one-day coup. Earlier that morning François Bozizé, the incumbent president of the last 10 years, fled the country to Cameroon.

In late 2012, the Seleka alliance had been capturing villages, starting from their base and working north towards the capital. Seleka halted operations in January to participate in peace talks, which were held in Libreville, Gabon, brokered by the Congolese foreign minister and facilitated by neighbouring countries, the UN and the US. Seleka, opposition parties and the government of CAR participated, though President Bozizé did not attend. Bozizé refused Seleka’s demands for him to step down from the presidency, stating it would “betray the people who elected me”.

The key compromises reached within the Libreville Accords were:

Despite signing the Libreville Accords, Seleka justified the March coup by stating that President Bozizé was not sticking to his side of the agreement. Their spokesperson said they could “no longer trust Bozizé’s promises”.

Coup aftermath

Following the coup, Djotodia declared himself Head of State, although this was disputed. After an election in which he was the only candidate, Djotodia was officially sworn in as President in August 2013. He vowed to “preserve the peace, to consolidate national unity (and) to ensure the well-being of the Central African people”.

Outlining Seleka’s plans, Djotodia has promised to hold democratic elections in 2016, seek more aid from France, get US help in training the national army as well as review natural resource deals with China and South Africa.

CAR soldier protects women's march urging Seleka to stop fighting | Photo: SIA KAMBOU AFP/Getty Images

CAR soldier protects women’s march urging Seleka to stop fighting | Photo: SIA KAMBOU
AFP/Getty Images

Since Djotodia was sworn in as President there have been reports of violence towards civilians and between armed forces. The International Federation for Human Rights has documented over 400 murders by Seleka-related groups between March and July. Officials from the Djotodia government claim the violence is instigated by pro-Bozizé forces, members of the former regime and actors pretending to be Seleka affiliated. The UN’s fact finding mission delivered a report detailing evidence that violence was caused on both sides. In addition to violence aimed at civilians, however, there have been reports of clashes between those loyal to Bozizé and those loyal to Djotodia. The Financial Times reported the death toll in a recent clash reaching more than 70 dead.

In September, Djotodia disbanded Seleka, banning all Seleka-affiliated activity and sacked his army general – General Bombayake – in favour of Jean-Pierre Dolle-Waya, as pro-Bozizé forces launched more attacks against Djotodia and his affiliates.

The international community has condemned the violent events since the coup, while reluctantly acknowledging that Djotodia now has power. The African Union has imposed a travel ban on the leaders of the armed groups within Seleka and frozen their assets, while humanitarian groups are concerned about the impact on CAR’s civilians.

ResPoss asks:

Was Seleka justified in executing a coup to remove Bozizé from power when he refused to step down?

Does Djotodia’s election victory legitimise his leadership and express support from CAR’s citizens?

With the talks of increased violence across the country, how is Djotodia’s promise of preserving the peace and ensuring the well-being of the Central African people being fulfilled?

Can Djotodia wield political power with out the full support of the international community?

How can Djotodia establish credibility and demonstrate his respect for Rule of Law?

How can the needs of CAR’s citizens be met in the midst of internal and diplomatic uncertainty?

The official recognition that Bozizé’s government gained internationally came with humanitarian and financial assistance. Djotodia’s leadership has now been internationally recognised, although reluctantly – so why is humanitarian assistance still lacking?

For more detail on the coup, see our regional update from April 2013: <a ” href=” ” target=”_blank”>Transitional government follows Seleka coup in CAR.

For more on the Seleka alliance, see our Central African Republic page.

Coming up | Humanitarian repercussions in CAR


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


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