THIS DAY IN HISTORY: Central African Republic becomes independent of French colonial control.
August 13, 1960 is celebrated annually as the day that this landlocked central African country became a nation independent of French control. However, the country was ruled by a series of presidents, military rulers and an emperor, the notorious Jean-Bédel Bokassa, most of whom gained power through coups, often with the backing of France. Central Africa’s first democratic elections would not be held until 1993, 33 years after independence.
The country is currently in the midst of a violent crisis that came about as a result of political unrest, spurred by the resistance movements against the CAR government by rebel armies who have formed a coalition known as Seleka (meaning ‘union’ in the Sango language).
As of March this year, the rebels had seized the capital city of Bangui, causing President Francois Bozize to flee the country, essentially living CAR without a government. Following this, rebel leader Michel Djotodia declared himself president. Djotodia also dissolved the government and suspended the country’s constitution.
On-going unrest continues as many civilians have become vulnerable to violent attacks with many fleeing to neighbouring countries as refugees and IDPs. Furthermore, many children face the threat of being recruited as child soldiers, amongst other human rights abuses and violations.