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Posts tagged "central african republic"

Central African Republic elects first woman president.

After the country’s first Muslim leader and former interim president stepped down on January 10th after both internal and external pressure over his failure to curb the ongoing conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR), an election was held to determine who the country’s next interim president would be.

With six candidates knocked out in the first round, lawyer, businesswoman and now former mayor of the capital city of Bangui Catherine Samba-Panza went to head-to-head against Desire Kolingbe, the son of a former president Andre Kolingba, winning 75 votes against Kolingba’s 53 in the second round of voting. 

In her victory speech, Samba-Penza called on her fellow citizens to ‘put down their arms and stop all the fighting’.

Although a Christian, the BBC reports that President Samba-Penza is seen as ‘politically neutral’ at a time where tensions are high between CAR’s Muslim and Christian population.

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.

South African President Jacob Zuma, facing a firestorm over the deaths of 13 soldiers in a coup in the Central African Republic, said Thursday he was withdrawing troops from the restive nation.

Zuma is facing thorny questions over why South Africa had troops in the country in the first place, amid accusations of dodgy deals with ousted president Francois Bozize.

"We have taken a decision to withdraw our soldiers," Zuma said as pressure rose over South Africa’s biggest military loss since the end of apartheid.

Thirteen troops died and 27 were wounded on March 23 when they came under fire from around 3,000 Seleka rebel fighters near the capital Bangui.

Zuma said the decision to pull out remaining troops was made because the overthrow of Francois Bozize’s government effectively ended a bilateral military deal.

"Our mission was to help train the soldiers, since the coup and the self-appointment of rebels, it was clear that the government is no longer there," Zuma said, according to state broadcaster SABC.

As the situation in Central Africa deteriorated last year, South Africa had 26 soldiers on the ground to help with military training in the troubled nation, which has suffered repeated coups since independence in 1960.

In December a decision was taken to send around 200 more South African troops to protect the trainers and military equipment.

It emerged that there was a mandate to protect Bozize, who himself seized power in a coup in 2003, and later won a flawed presidential election.

With the South African government offering few details about the mission, accusations have swirled that it had morphed to match business interests of the ruling ANC.

Allegations also surfaced in Bangui that Zuma and Bozize had signed accords giving South African businesses access to oil, diamond and gold riches in exchange for protection.

(read more)

Jean-Bedel BOKASSA is crowned Emperor BOKASSA I.

December 5th, 1977.


Orange vendors, Central African Republic


Jean-Bédel Bokassa, also called Bokassa I was on born Feb. 22, 1921 in Bobangui, Moyen-Congo, then part of colonial French Equatorial Africa (now the Central African Republic) the son of a village headman.

Bokassa attended local missionary schools before joining the French army in 1939. Whilst in service, Bokassa distinguished himself in the French conflict in Indochina, and by 1961 had achieved the rank of captain.

At the request of Pres. David Dacko (president of the Central African Republic from 1960 to 1965 and from 1979 to 1981), Bokassa left the French armed forces to head the army of the newly independent Central African Republic. On Dec. 31, 1965, Bokassa used his position as supreme military commander to overthrow Dacko, declaring himself president of the republic on Jan. 1, 1966.

Bokassa initially spearheaded a number of reforms in an effort to develop the Central African Republic. He sought to promote economic development with Operation Bokassa, a national economic plan that created huge nationalized farms and industries, but the plan was stymied by poor management. He later became known for his autocratic and unpredictable policies, and his government was characterized by periodic reshuffles in which the power of the presidency was gradually increased.

In December 1976 Bokassa assumed the title Emperor Bokassa I and changed the name of his country to the Central African Empire. He was crowned a year later—in emulation of his hero, Napoleon I—in a lavish ceremony that cost more than $20 million. By this time Bokassa’s rule had effectively bankrupted his impoverished country, and his reign as emperor proved to be short-lived.

Following the substantiation of international charges that Bokassa had personally participated in a massacre of 100 school children by his imperial guard, French paratroops carried out a military coup against him that reestablished the republic and reinstated Dacko as president (September 1979). Bokassa went into exile, first traveling to Côte d’Ivoire but later settling in France.

Bokassa was sentenced in absentia to death in 1980, but he inexplicably chose to return to the Central African Republic in 1986. He was arrested and put on trial, and in 1987 he was found guilty of the murders of the school children and other crimes (although he was acquitted of charges of cannibalism).

His death sentence was subsequently commuted, and he was freed in 1993. He was posthumously pardoned in 2010, in conjunction with the country’s 50th anniversary celebration.


Central African Republic: LRA Attack Near Hunting Reserve

The Ugandan rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), carried out attacks from June 21 to 25, 2012, near a remote hunting concession outside Bakouma, in the Central African Republic (CAR). The attackers killed at least two civilians and abducted at least 14 others. The attacks followed killings of 13 civilians in the same area in March.


Amboko camp, Chad

A refugee from Central African Republic tends a garden in Amboko camp, southern Chad (by UNHCR)

Invisible Children have released a follow-up to their controversial “Kony 2012” video that caused a wave of criticism concerning the organization’s focuses and intentions.

This video, “KONY 2012: Part II - Beyond Famous" is said to offer a "closer look at the LRA and explores the solutions put forward by leaders of the currently-affected areas of CAR, DRC, and South Sudan, where local communities continue to live under the constant threat of LRA violence.

Watch and judge for yourself.