The French colony of the Central African
Republic became an independent nation in 1960 with David
Dacko as self-proclaimed president. Since then, the
country has been characterized by political turmoil,
coups, economic mismanagement and poverty. In the 2000s,
a series of rebel movements also started a revolt
against the government in Bangui.
In 1962, President Dacko introduced one-party rule.
Four years later, his cousin, Army commander Jean Bédel
Bokassa, took power in a coup and was appointed
president for life.
List of most commonly used acronyms containing Central African Republic. Also includes historical, economical and political aspects of the country.
In 1976, Bokassa proclaimed the Central African
Empire. His own coronation to the emperor cost a quarter
of that year's state budget. Over time, the regime
became increasingly oppressive and resistance to it
grew. A deposed prime minister, Ange-Félix Patassé,
formed the opposition group Central African
People's Liberation Movement (MLPC) which in
July 1979 carried out a bloody coup. The takeover was
carried out with some other political groups and with
decisive support from France, which until then had
Dacko now became president for the second time and
multi-party systems were introduced, but Dacko was
forced in 1981 to hand over power to General André
Kolingba. This started a new period of dictatorship, but
the country's economic problems caused the resistance to
Kolingba to grow soon. Ange-Félix Patassé made a failed
coup attempt in 1982 and fled to Togo with French help.
New one-party rule
By a new constitution the following year, the
one-party power was reintroduced. Recurrent
regime-critical demonstrations led to riots in 1990,
which forced the regime to reintroduce multi-party
systems. When the presidential elections were held in
1993, Ange-Félix Patassé won. It was only after threats
from France of withdrawal assistance that Kolingba gave
up and resigned. A new constitution was adopted in 1995
which gave the president great powers of power.
The Patassé government soon had major problems with
the country's poor economy. It was unable to pay wages
to military and other civil servants, which led to
strikes and riots within the army from 1996 to 1997. The
riots were defeated by French soldiers and tens of
thousands of residents fled the fighting. In 1997, a
peace agreement was signed which gave the insurgents
amnesty. A unifying government was formed and in 1998
the UN deployed a peacekeeping force, called Minurca.
Despite continued economic downturn and corruption
charges, Patassé won the 1999 presidential election.
In 2000, Minurca was withdrawn as the situation
appeared to have stabilized. But already the following
year, new unrest broke out, again as a result of missing
wages to government employees. In May 2001, Kolingba
attempted to carry out a coup that was defeated by
President Patassé with the help of Libyan soldiers.
The next coup attempt came in November of that year.
It was led by Army Chief François Bozizé. Once again,
Patassé could remain with Libyan help. Bozizé fled to
Chad, from where his soldiers made raids into the
Central African Republic.
A new coup attempt by Bozizé in the fall of 2002 was
averted with the help of both Libya and a Congolese
Following this coup attempt, a regional peace force
was installed in the country to protect President
Patassé, but the force could not prevent Bozizé from
finally taking power in a new coup in March 2003.
Chad sent soldiers to secure the change of power. In
April of that year, a transitional government was
formed. Bozizé promised payouts to government employees
who have not been paid for more than two years.
New constitution and elections
In December 2004, a majority of citizens voted in
favor of a new constitution. It meant that the
president's term of office was shortened from six to
five years, which would strengthen the position of the
prime minister and parliament.
In the 2005 presidential election, Bozizé's main
opponent Ange-Félix Patassé was banned from running for
candidacy and Bozizé won by a good margin.
Through the parliamentary elections, which were held
at the same time, Bozizé's position of power was
strengthened as the newly formed Bozizétrogna alliance
National Unity Movement Kwa Na
Kwa became the largest party coalition and
could control the parliament.
But François Bozizé's takeover of the government
meant no stabilization of the country. Public servants
carried out new strikes because they did not receive the
salaries the president promised.
Several resistance groups, the largest of which was
the Union of Democratic Forces Unity
(in French abbreviated to UFDR), resorted to weapons in
2004 in the northwestern part of the country. The UDFR
consisted of former supporters of President Bozizé. They
originally came from Chad and had participated in the
coup in 2003 but did not think they had been rewarded
enough for their efforts. Other rebels from the north
Struggles were fought in 2005 and 2006. In the autumn
of 2006, UFDR took several cities near the Sudanese
border. The Bozizé government accused Sudan of
intervening and pleading for help from France.
Counter-offensive and new rebellion
With French military support, the army went against
the offensive and in December 2006 it had taken back all
the cities. At the same time, another rebel group, the
People's Army for the Restoration of the
Republic and Democracy (APRD), launched an
insurgency in the northwest. The core of the APRD was
made up of people serving in the overthrown President
Patassé's guard force.
In the spring of 2007, some 220,000 Central Africans
had fled the violence in the north according to the UN.
About a third had fled to Chad or Cameroon, while the
rest were on the run inland.
During Libyan mediation, a peace agreement was signed
between the government and several rebel groups in 2007,
but the agreements did not hold and the fighting
continued to varying degrees.
In September 2007, the UN again sent an international
peacekeeping force to the Central African Republic and
Chad, Minurcat. The mission was to
protect civilians, both in the Central African Republic
and Chad. The task force also had the task of training
police officers and offering police licenses to aid
organizations. Minurcat consisted of approximately 5,200
soldiers from the EU, mainly France, and 300 UN-staffed
In February 2008, the EU also sent a peace force
Eufor Chad/RCA of 3,700 men to Chad and
the Central African Republic. The soldiers came mainly
from France, but also from Sweden and other EU
countries. The EUFOR force stayed as agreed for one
year. In March 2009, Minurcat took over EUFOR's mandate.
In June 2008, a new peace agreement was signed with
APRD and UFDR, whose soldiers were to disarm and get
help to return to ordinary life. The dialogue continued
in December the same year and in January 2009 a unifying
government was formed, where the leaders of the APRD and
UFDR each received a ministerial post. But the peace
process was interrupted by new fighting. In February
2009, the city of Ndélé was taken in the north by a
newly formed rebel group called the Patriotic
Association for Justice and Peace (CPJP), and
in March, an outbreak group from the UFDR announced that
they had taken up arms.
Minurcat is withdrawn
President Bozize's government was dissatisfied with
Minurcat's presence in the country. The government
wanted free space for its own armed forces in the
northeast. The government in Chad also wanted to remove
the UN force from the area. Minurcat was withdrawn in
November 2010 and just over a week later the fighting
between government forces and rebels intensified.
The general elections that would have been held in
April 2010 were carried out in early 2011. Several
smaller opposition groups announced that they were
thinking of boycotting the elections because they
suspected that they would not go right. In the first
round of the January presidential election, five
candidates stood, including President Bozizé and former
President Ange-Félix Patassé, who had returned from
According to official results, Bozizé already won the
presidential election by 64 percent of the vote. Patassé
received 21 percent. The turnout was 54 percent,
significantly lower than in the 2005 election.
Even before the results were presented, three of the
presidential candidates accused Bozizé of electoral
fraud, and international election observers noted that a
number of irregularities had taken place. However, that
did not prevent Bozizé from staying in power.
In the parliamentary elections, the Bozizet-led party
alliance National Assembly Movement Kwa Na Kwa received
61 of the 105 seats in Parliament and thus its own
Struggles between government forces and various rebel
groups continued to flare up while almost equally
regular peace talks were being held - sometimes
accompanied by peace agreements that were rarely held.
Clashes between different ethnic groups in some cities
contributed to the instability.
Séléka overthrows Bozizé
Disappointment that the government did not live up to
its promises in previous peace agreements and the
deteriorating situation in the northern part of the
country led to defectors from the CPJP, UFDR and another
rebel group, the Patriotic Collection for the
Rescue of Society (Convention Patriotique du
Salut du Kodro, CPSK), formed a new movement called
Séléka in the fall of 2012. The members of the movement
came mainly from the Muslim minority (see also Political
In December, Séléka quickly moved south towards
Bangui, taking control of a number of important cities
and roads. The government in vain appealed to France and
the United States for military assistance. Although
France sent 400 men, their only task was to protect
French and other Europeans.
On March 23, 2013, Séléka entered the capital after
hard fighting and President Bozizé fled abroad. Séléka,
who was now reported to be mastering about three
quarters of the country, plundered and killed
indiscriminately in Bangui and other cities.
Séléka's leader Michel Djotodia appointed himself new
president and shortly thereafter repealed the
constitution and dissolved the parliament. Djotodia thus
became the country's first president, originating in the
The rebel takeover of power was condemned by both the
UN and the African Union (AU).
At a summit in Chad, a number of African leaders and
representatives of the regional cooperation organization
CEEAC (in English ECCAS) decided that the country should
be led by a transitional council with representatives
from many political parties until new elections were
held. At the first Council meeting, Djotodia was elected
leader of the Council and thus became interim president,
which was accepted by the CEEAC.
Christians against Muslims
The situation in the country continued to be chaotic.
Séléka was charged with looting, murder, torture and
rape. Above all, the Christian population was affected.
New battles were reported in August and September
between the former rebels and loyal groups with the
overthrown president. Spontaneously organized militias
and youths who received weapons from military loyal to
Bozizé fought Séléka in tough street battles.
In mid-September, President Djotodia decided to
dissolve Séléka. Some of the former rebels were inducted
into the new army. But most refused to lay down their
weapons and continued to attack civilians. In many
places, Christian-dominated self-defense militia was
formed, so-called "anti-balaka" (see Political system).
At that point, the conflict was no longer about
military operations to achieve concrete political goals.
It had gone into indiscriminate revenge campaigns,
especially between gangs of anti-Balaka and former
Séléka rebels. Anti-Balaka also attacked civilian
Muslims and traders in revenge for the other side's
Defenseless people in villages and neighborhoods were
murdered. Even children are killed. Countless women were
subjected to rape. Homes, mosques and churches were
burned down and entire villages were destroyed. The
African peacekeeping forces that existed in the country
were not enough to protect the residents against the
violence in cities and villages.
Thousands of people therefore sought protection in a
camp at the capital's airport where there was a French
The majority of the Muslim population of about
120,000 people in Bangui were forced to flee the
capital, under the aegis of soldiers of an African
peacekeeping force located in the country.
In December, the African peacekeepers were
transformed into a new force under the name
Misca (Mission International de Soutien ŕ la
Centrafrique), which after reinforcements would consist
of 3,600 men.
Warning for genocide
The conflict had now been characterized by ethnic
cleansing, and the UN warned that the situation was
about to degenerate into genocide. In December, the UN
Security Council adopted a resolution mandating Misca to
take "all necessary measures" to restore order in the
country. France also sent more soldiers to the Central
African Republic. The French force now amounted to 1,600
At the beginning of 2014, the UN estimated that
nearly 960,000 people had fled the violence. By that
time, anti-balaka had taken over in the battles against
the former Sélékarebels who fled the capital to their
bases in the north. Thus, the field was open to anti-Balaka
to carry out revenge campaigns against former members of
Séléka and against Muslims in general.
It was now obvious to the outside world that no calm
could be restored as long as President Michel Djotodia
remained. For the majority of the population he was a
detested symbol of Séléka's violent act.
In January 2014, Djotodia was called to a summit in
Chad with the regional cooperation organization CEEAC
(ECCAS). After a few days of pressure from the other
African leaders, he agreed to resign and move to Benin.
After a week, the transitional council in the country
had elected a new transitional president. It became
Bangui Mayor Catherine Samba-Panza, a successful
businesswoman who trained as a lawyer in France.
Samba-Panza was a Christian but was generally considered
to be above the bitter political struggles.
Bozizé takes power in a coup
When President Ange-Félix Patassé is abroad, rebel leader François Bozizé
takes the capital and proclaims himself president. Parliament is dissolved and a
transitional government is set up.