History of Central African Republic - History

History of Central African Republic - History

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Though this African region has been open to development since the 1800s, it was not until 1889 that a European settlement was set up by the French. Five years later, the region became the territory of Ubangi-Shari and in 1910, became part of French Equatorial Africa. Self-governing since 1958, the country was granted independence two years later. Originally a republic, the army overthrew the elected government in 1966. The coup leader, Jean-Bedel Bokassa, was given the title of president-for-life in 1972 but four years later, declared himself an emperor and the country the Central African Empire. In 1979, Bokassa was exiled to France and country became a republic once more. But in 1981, the army once again took over, banning political parties and it was not until 1991 that the country legalized opposition parties. Since elections in 1993, the government led by Ange Felix Patisse has attempted to limit the powers of the army but the military has not been quelled. In 1996 alone, France was asked to help Patisse twice in keeping army-led rebellions in check.

More History

Central African Republic

The Central African Republic (CAR Sango: Ködörösêse tî Bêafrîka French: République centrafricaine (RCA [9] ), French: [ʁepyblik sɑ̃tʁafʁikɛn] , or Centrafrique [sɑ̃tʁafʁik] ) is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Chad to the north, Sudan to the northeast, South Sudan to the southeast, the DR Congo to the south, the Republic of the Congo to the southwest, and Cameroon to the west.

The CAR covers a land area of about 620,000 square kilometres (240,000 sq mi). as of 2018 [update] , it had an estimated population of around 4.7 million . As of 2021 [update] , the CAR is the scene of a civil war, ongoing since 2012. [10] Most of the CAR consists of Sudano-Guinean savannas, but the country also includes a Sahelo-Sudanian zone in the north and an equatorial forest zone in the south. Two-thirds of the country is within the Ubangi River basin (which flows into the Congo), while the remaining third lies in the basin of the Chari, which flows into Lake Chad.

What is today the Central African Republic has been inhabited for millennia. However, the country's current borders were established by France, which ruled the country as a colony starting in the late 19th century. After gaining independence from France in 1960, the Central African Republic was ruled by a series of autocratic leaders, including an abortive attempt at a monarchy. [11]

By the 1990s, calls for democracy led to the first multi-party democratic elections in 1993. Ange-Félix Patassé became president, but was later removed by General François Bozizé in the 2003 coup. The Central African Republic Bush War began in 2004 and, despite a peace treaty in 2007 and another in 2011, civil war resumed in 2012. The civil war perpetuated the country's poor human rights record: it was characterized by widespread and increasing abuses by various participating armed groups, such as arbitrary imprisonment, torture, and restrictions on freedom of the press and freedom of movement.

Despite its significant mineral deposits and other resources— such as uranium reserves, crude oil, gold, diamonds, cobalt, lumber, and hydropower [12] as well as significant quantities of arable land— the Central African Republic is among the ten poorest countries in the world, with the lowest GDP per capita at purchasing power parity in the world as of 2017. [13] As of 2019 [update] , according to the Human Development Index (HDI), the country had the second-lowest level of human development (only behind Niger), ranking 188 out of 189 countries. The country had the lowest inequality-adjusted Human Development Index (IHDI), ranking 150th out of 150 countries. [14] The Central African Republic is also estimated to be the unhealthiest country [15] as well as the worst country in which to be young. [16]

A Short History of Central African Republic

Central African Republic President Francois Bozize issued a decree on July 30, 2010, postponing the country&rsquos presidential and parliamentary elections initially set for April 18, 2010, to January 23, 2011 for the first round, and March 20, 2011 for the second round, which the political opposition coalition agreed. The results of the elections may yet provide positive changes for the country, which has undergone a series of misrule and coup d&rsquoétat for a number of decades since it gained independence from France on August 13, 1960.

The first coup was led by military Colonel Jean-Bedel Bokassa on December 31, 1965 to overthrow first post-independence President David Dacko, a close aide of Barthelemy Boganda, President of the Conseil de Gouvernement, who died in a mysterious plane mishap in 1959. In 1972, Bokassa declared himself president for life and crowned himself Emperor of the country he named Central African Empire in an elaborate and expensive ceremony that drew criticism from the international community. In 1979, however, France successfully backed up a coup against Bokassa and restored Dacko to the Presidency. Another coup, this time led by General Andre Kolingba overthrew Dacko on September 1, 1981. Kolingba introduced a new Constitution in 1986, which was eventually approved in a nationwide referendum, but he was defeated in the elections of 1993 by Ange-Felix Patasse, who stripped Kolinga of his military rank of General. After ruling the country for more than nine years, Patasse was brought down from power by another coup led by General Francois Bozize, the army chief of staff, in March 2003, who went on to win the presidential election in 2005. The rest is part of history in the making.


A few themes emerge from this history. One is the sedimented nature of violence as an element of rule in Equatorial Africa. Another is the always-relational character of CAR sovereignty. Central African leaders have been adept at managing dependence with leaders from beyond the country’s borders in order to bolster their own positions, in a classic example of what Jean-Francois Bayart called extraversion. These external actors—from France to the UN—have generally viewed CAR through the lens of regional stability rather than standing firm for inclusiveness in CAR politics (if it even is in the power of “outside” actors to do such a thing). This time around, the diplomats were sort of right: the end of the Bozizé era brought the chaos they feared. And yet the perpetuation of the undemocratic Bozizé regime was among the main factors fostering grievances and directly spurred the current war. This paradox requires a more thorough and honest accounting—among Central Africans and diplomatic actors alike—than has thus far been the case. The weight of CAR’s history makes it hard to be optimistic, but the authors assembled here are committed to locating the hope in realism.


About four fifths of the labor force works in agriculture, mostly at the subsistence level. Major crops include cassava, yams, peanuts (groundnuts), corn (maize), bananas, plantains, and oranges. On the forest margins of the moist south, coffee trees produce a good harvest. On the plateau cotton does well. Tobacco and palm products also are produced in limited quantities. In the cooler, grassy uplands livestock are raised.

Diamonds and gold are the only minerals that the country produces, though deposits of uranium, iron ore, manganese, and copper also exist. The absence of a railroad is a major obstacle to the development of these raw materials. Gold and diamonds are exported by air. The republic’s forests produce exportable timber.

The industrial sector is small. Major items produced include food and beverages, tobacco, chemical products, and textiles and wearing apparel.

Central African Republic Culture

Religion in Central African Republic

25% of the population is Protestant. 25% is Roman Catholic. There is a small Islamic minority of 15% and 35% of the population have indigeneous beliefs.

Social Conventions in Central African Republic

Dress is informal. Care should be taken to dress modestly in Muslim areas, and Muslim customs should be respected and observed visitors should not, for instance, show the soles of their feet when sitting. Shorts are also generally frowned upon, and women are expected to dress modestly. It is customary to shake hands. Women are strictly segregated, especially in towns. In Muslim areas, visitors should not smoke or drink in public during Ramadan.

Photography: Film is expensive and should be sent abroad for developing. Show caution and discretion when photographing local people ask for permission. Do not photograph military installations or government buildings.

Peace process

2008 June - Two of three main rebel groups - the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR) and the Popular Army for the Restoration of Democracy (APRD) - sign peace agreement with government providing for disarmament and demobilisation of rebel fighters.

2008 September - Parliament adopts amnesty law seen as last remaining obstacle to successful conclusion of peace talks between rebels and the government.

2008 December - Government-rebel peace deal envisages formation of consensus government and elections in March 2010.

2009 January - National unity government unveiled includes leaders of the two main rebel groups. Main opposition UVNF criticises the changes to the cabinet as insufficient.

2009 February - Ugandan LRA rebels cross into CAR.

2009 March - French troops reportedly deploy in Bangui after rebels infiltrate the capital.

2009 April - Clashes between government and rebels continue. UN Security Council agrees to creation of new UN peacebuilding office for CAR to address ongoing insecurity.

2009 July - New electoral commission established after parliament approves new election law.

2009 September - Ugandan army confirms that it is pursuing LRA rebels in CAR.

2009 August - UN report says more than a million people have been affected by civil unrest in CAR.

2009 October/November - Former President Ange-Felix Patasse returns from exile, hints that he may stand for the presidency in 2010.

2010 February - Rights groups, opposition and France call for prove into claims - denied by the authorities - that rebel leader Charles Massi was tortured to death in government custody.

President Bozize says elections to be held on 25 April opposition rejects date, fearing vote will be rigged.

2010 April - Elections postponed. Parliament extends President Bozize's term until polls can be held.

2010 May - UN Security Council votes to withdraw a UN force from Chad and the Central African Republic, deployed to protect displaced Chadians and refugees from Sudan's Darfur.

2010 July - Rebels attack northern town of Birao.

2010 September - Voter registration begins for presidential, parliamentary elections due in January 2011.

2010 October - Four countries affected by LRA violence agree to form joint military force to pursue the rebels.

2010 November - Ex-DR Congo vice-president Jean-Pierre Bemba goes on trial at International Criminal Court accused of letting his troops rape and kill in Central African Republic between 2002 and 2003.

2010 December - 50th independence anniversary. Former self-styled Emperor Jean-Bedel Bokassa is officially rehabilitated.

2011 January - Presidential and parliamentary elections. Mr Bozize wins another term.

2011 April - Former President Ange-Felix Patasse dies aged 74.

2011 December - The charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) warns that the Central country is in a state of chronic medical emergency because of epidemic diseases, conflict, an economic downturn and a poor health system.

2012 March - African Union deploys a military force to hunt down Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, believed to be in the Central African Republic.

2012 August - Last historic armed group - Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP) - signs peace deal.

Central African Republic

Upon gaining its independence from France on August 13, 1960, the former French colony known as Ubangi-Shari became the Central African Republic. The Central African Republic covers approximately 240,535 square miles (622,984 kilometers) and borders Cameroon, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo, and Sudan in the central part of Africa. Its capital is Bangui. Although French is the official language of the Central African Republic, Arabic and Swahili are also spoken. Its national literacy rate is 60 percent.

The first formal schools began in the Central African Republic in about 1930. These schools were primarily extensions of the Catholic church, and the teachers were missionaries. After 1937, a government education system was established. Between the mid-1940s and 1960, the population grew at such a fast pace that both private and government schools were needed to meet the educational demands. In 1963 the government ordered the abolition of private schools however, by 1975 another spurt in population growth made it necessary for private schools to resume their role in meeting the educational needs of the growing country.

Bangui, Central African Republic (1889- )

Bangui is the capital and largest city of the landlocked nation of the Central African Republic. The city had a population of 750,000 people in 2012 which is about 16% of the nation’s 4.6 million people. Bangui spans an area covering 67 square km, or 41.6 miles, and is named after the rapids in the Ubangi River on whose bank the city is situated. Across the river are the Democratic Republic of Congo and the town of Zongo. Due to Bangui being located near the equator the climate is hot and humid throughout much of the year and heavy rains that lead to flooding are common.

The history of Bangui began on June 25th, 1889 when the town was founded during the height of European colonial expansion following the Partition of Africa in 1885. The French explorer Michael Dolisie established it close to the juncture of the Ubangi and Mpoko Rivers. Hard times followed the founding of Bangui. Maurice Musy and Paul Comte, two colonial commanders, were both killed during combat with the indigenous populations in 1890. In 1891 the town was moved up river and became the base for French infiltration north toward the country of Chad and east toward the Nile River.

During its colonization Bangui served as the French administrative center for the region called Ubangi-Shari. On December 11th, 1906 Bangui was detached from the Middle Congo and became the capital of the Ubangi-Shari region created in 1903.

In 1960 when the Central African Republic gained its independence from the French, Pan-Africanist leader Kwame Nkrumah, then president of newly independent Ghana, suggested that Bangui become the headquarters for the Organization of African Unity. The headquarters was eventually located at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia but since independence, the city has hosted numerous inter-African meetings.

Bangui has many landmarks within its boundaries that reflect its rich history and culture. The city’s most distinctive landmarks date back to the 1970s when President—and later self-declared Emperor—Jean-Bédel Bokassa built an elaborate royal palace and a large triumphal arch honoring his reign. Even after Bokassa was deposed in 1979, the monuments remained as a stark reminder of the tyranny of the Emperor. The city is surrounded by various archeological sites that contain remnants from the Iron Age.

French is the official language of the city and country. Prior to colonization however Sango was the native language spoken in the Central African Republic and the Ubangi River region. The language is still spoken by many people in Bangui and throughout the country. The main religious groups are Catholics, Muslims, native religions, and Protestants. The people who comprise the majority of the city’s inhabitants are migrants from the countryside who seek a better life in the capital.

Since independence in 1960 the Central African Republic has undergone frequent military and political strife. Because of this violence, the city has been named one of the most dangerous places in the world. There is a lack of general sanitation and potable water, a situation made more difficult by the constant arrival of new migrants from the countryside.

Central African Republic since 2003

François Bozizé suspended the constitution and named a new cabinet which included most opposition parties. Abel Goumba, known as “Mr. Clean”,citation needed] was named vice-president, which gave Bozizé’s new government a positive image. Bozizé established a broad-based National Transition Council to draft a new constitution and announced that he would step down and run for office once the new constitution was approved. A national dialogue was held from 15 September to 27 October 2003, and Bozizé won a fair election that excluded Patassé, to be elected president on a second ballot, in May 2005.

In November 2006, the Bozizé government requested French military support to fend off rebels who had taken control of towns in the country’s north. Though the initially public details of the agreement pertained to logistics and intelligence, the French assistance eventually included strikes by Mirage jets against rebel positions.

Bozizé was reelected in an election in 2011 which was widely considered fraudulent.

In November 2012, a coalition of rebel groups took over towns in the north and center of the country. These groups eventually reached a peace deal with the Bozizé’s government in January 2013 involving a power sharing government. This peace deal was later broken when the rebels who had joined the power sharing government left their posts and rebel groups stormed the capital. Bozizé fled the country and Michel Djotodia took over the presidency. In September 2013, Djotodia officially disbanded Seleka but many rebels refused to disarm and veered further out of government control.

In November 2013, the UN warned the country was at risk of spiraling into genocide and France described the country as “..on the verge of genocide.” The increasing violence was largely from reprisal attacks on civilians from Seleka’s mainly Muslim fighters and Christian militias called “anti-balaka”, meaning ‘anti-machete’ or ‘anti-sword’. Christians make up half the population and Muslims 15 percent, according to the CIA World Factbook. As many Christians have sedentary lifestyles and many Muslims are nomadic, claims to the land were yet another dimension of the conflict.

On 13 December 2013, the UNHCR stated 610 people had been killed in the sectarian violence. Nearly 1 million people, a quarter of the population, were displaced. Anti-balaka Christian militiamen were targeting Bangui’s Muslim neighborhoods and Muslim ethnic groups such as the Fula people.

Violence broke out Christmas Day, 2013 in Bangui, the capital of Central African Republic. Six Chadian soldiers from the African Union peacekeeping force were killed on Christmas Day in the Gobongo neighborhood and a mass grave of 20 bodies was discovered near the presidential palace. A spokesman for the president of the Central African Republic confirmed that assailants had attempted to attack the presidential palace as well, but were pushed back.

On 18 February 2014 United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the UN Security Council to immediately deploy 3,000 troops to the country to combat what he described as innocent civilians being deliberately targeted and murdered in large numbers. Noting the violent overthrow of the government in 2013, the collapse of state institutions and a descent into lawlessness and sectarian brutality, Ban said, “The situation in the country has been on the agenda of the Security Council for many years now. But today’s emergency is of another, more disturbing magnitude. It is a calamity with a strong claim on the conscience of humankind.” The secretary-general outlined a six-point plan, including the addition of 3,000 peacekeepers to bolster the 6,000 African Union soldiers and 2,000 French troops already deployed in the country.

Watch the video: The remains of Central African Republics imperial past (July 2022).


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