#PartyPolitics: Central Africa Republic

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August 16, 2016

#PartyPolitics: Central Africa Republic

The Central African Republic (CAR) is a landlocked country bordered by Chad, Sudan, South Sudan, DRC, Congo and Cameroon. According to the UNDP, the country is among the 10 least developed countries, with a Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.35 in 2015.[1] Due to the political and security crisis of the past years, CAR’s economic situation severely declined following a 30% GDP drop in 2012; the country has yet to recover to its 2012 level.

The political history of CAR began with Barthélemy Boganda, founder of the first central African party in 1950 – the Movement for the Social Evolution of Black Africa – in French, Mouvement pour l’évolution sociale de l’Afrique noire (MESAN). In 1957, Boganda was elected President of the Grand Council of French Equatorial Africa, and within a year established the Central African Republic. At the height of the electoral campaign in 1959, Boganda died in a plane accident and was replaced by his cousin, David Dacko, as leader of the MESAN and head of the Republic. In 1960, CAR became formally independent from France and Dacko became its first President. [2]

By 1962, Dacko established a single-party system rooted in favouritism; seen by his appointing of MESAN members into all state functions. This led the regime to become unpopular; and eventually to a coup d’état organised by Colonel Jean-Bédel Bokassa on 1 January 1965. The MESAN remained the only existing party, even when CAR was transformed into an empire in 1976. With the help of the French, Dacko dethroned Bokassa in 1979.[3] A year later he dissolved the MESAN and replaced it with the Central African Democratic Union; a short-lived party that was banned in 1981 when General Kolingba organised a coup against Dacko and established a military junta, run by himself as head of the newly created Military Committee for National Recovery (MCNR). [4]

In 1985, Kolingba dissolved the MCNR. He re-established a Constitution the following year and created a new party – the Rassemblement Democratique Centrafricain (RDC). However, the country retained a single-party system until 1991.

Inspired by the fall of the Berlin Wall and growing democratic movements in Africa, Central Africans multiplied pro-democratic initiatives.[5] Although opposition parties were allowed to participate in the 1992 presidential elections, they chose to boycott them, forcing a transitory collaboration comprised of: Kolingba, Dacko, Abel Goumba (a former associate of Boganda), and Ange-Félix Patassé (former minister under Dacko’s rule who was in exile since his failed attempt to overthrow Kolingba). This coalition ruled the country until the re-organisation of elections in September 1993.[6]

The first democratic presidential elections since CARs independence, saw to Ange-Félix Patassé – Head of the Central African People’s Liberation Movement (Mouvement pour la Libération du Peuple Centrafricain; MLPC) elected President with 53.49% of the votes.[7]

Patassé’s government endured numerous civil crises. The change of currency from the French franc to the CFA franc bled the economy dry.[8] In addition, the lack of funds to pay the army and the governments use of arbitrary arrests and executions to tackle banditry, brought about several mutinies across the country. In 1997, in an attempt to restore peace and promote reconciliation, the different rebel groups and the government signed the Bangui Agreements. The United Nations (UN) launched a peacekeeping operation inclusive of troops on the ground in 1998, under the UN Mission to the Central African Republic (MINURCA) to ensure and monitor their implementation. [9]In 2003, Patassé was overthrown by General Bozizé leading the Coordination des Patriotes Centrafricains, a political and military organisation. Neither the 2005 presidential elections that elected Bozizé to bush power, nor the presence of UN peacekeeping forces were however able to prevent the Bush War. The Bush War started in 2004 in reaction to Bozizé’s coup d’état and opposed several rebel groups, mostly from the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity, and the government forces until 2011.[10]

From 2007 to 2011, several peace agreements were signed between rebel groups engaged in the Bush War and the government. However, these agreements only brought about brief intervals of peace, with the conflict leading CAR into one of the world’s deadliest conflicts in 2012; the Central African Republic Civil War.[11]

After several failed attempts to establish a capable interim government, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) held a summit in January 2014, during which Catherine Samba-Panza was elected by a transitional council to rule the interim government. The unrest continued throughout the following year but by 2015, as a relative peace started to emerge, hopes for the organisation of presidential election began to finally materialise.

In January 2016, against all odds, Faustin-Archange Touadéra – an independent candidate – was elected President with nearly 63% of the vote. Touadéra has a reputation for being an upright man, however as a former member of Bozizé’s government, he will have to prove himself capable of bringing peace and reconciliation to a battered country. [12]


Independence Day 1960
President Faustin-Archange Touadéra
Government Semi-presidential republic
Capital City Bangui
GDP (2015) 1,503 billion [13]
Population (2015) 4,9 million [14]
Religions Christianity, Islam [15]
Major Languages Sango, French
Currency CFA Franc
Life expectancy Men : 48 years

Women : 51 years [16]






[13] World Bank. 2016. Central African Republic. Available at: http://data.worldbank.org/country/central-african-republic [Accessed 5 August 2016]

[14] France Diplomatie. 2016. Présentation de la République Centrafricaine. Available at: http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/fr/dossiers-pays/republique-centrafricaine/presentation-de-la-republique-centrafricaine/ [Accessed 5 August 2016]

[15] BBC. 2016. Central African Republic country profile. Available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13150040 [Accessed 5 August 2016].

[16] Ibid

[1] UNDP. 2015. Human Development Reports. Central African Republic. Available at: http://hdr.undp.org/en/countries/profiles/CAF [Accessed 4 August 2016].

[2] GAGLIARDI A., GAUTRON J-C., KOKIDE J., MAGNANT J-P., & POURTIER R. 2016. « République Centrafricaine » in Encyclopaedia Universalis (online). Available at: http://www.universalis.fr/encyclopedie/republique-centrafricaine [Accessed 4 August 2016].

[3] Ibid

[4] GILES-VERNICK, T. L. 2016. « Central African Republic » in Encyclopaedia Britannica (online). Available at: https://global.britannica.com/place/Central-African-Republic [Accessed 4 August 2016].

[5] Ibid

[6] n2

[7] African Elections Database. Elections in Central African Republic. Available at: http://africanelections.tripod.com/cf.html#1993_Presidential_Election [Accessed 5 August 2016].

[8] n2

[9] United Nations. 2001. Central African Republic – MINURCA background. Available at: http://www.un.org/depts/DPKO/Missions/minurcaB.htm [Accessed 5 August 2016].

[10] Insight on Conflict. Oct. 2014. Central African Republic : Conflict Profile. Available at: https://www.insightonconflict.org/conflicts/central-african-republic/conflict-profile/ [Accessed 5 August 2016].

[11] Reuters. 2015. The World’s Deadliest Conflicts. Available at: http://www.reuters.com/news/picture/the-worlds-deadliest-conflicts?articleId=USRTR4TRPU  [Accessed 5 August 2016].

[12] HUON, P. 2016. Centrafrique: Faustin-Archange Touadéra, nouveau président surprise. Libération. Available at: http://www.liberation.fr/planete/2016/02/21/centrafrique-faustin-archange-touadera-nouveau-president-surprise_1434855 [Accessed 5 August 2016].