Central African Republic History

Central African Republic History

The indigenous people in what is now the Central African Republic were probably pygmies who lived as collectors and hunters. Around the beginning of the Christian era, Bantu-speaking peoples immigrated, which largely drove the pygmies. Around 1500, members of the Bongo (Banda) were located in the west of the country, while Sanda settled in the east.

In the 17th century, Portuguese and Dutch slave traders entered the country from the west coast (which was named after the Ubangi River), followed by Arab traders from the northeast. Due to the abduction of countless people as slaves, large parts of the country were depopulated by the middle of the 19th century.

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The French invaded Oubangi from the French Protectorate of the Congo in 1885 and founded the later capital Bangui in 1889 on the course of the river of the same name. When taking the land, the French had to assert themselves against the German troops advancing from Cameroon and Belgian troops advancing from Congo (Zaire).

The French claim to the territory of what is now the Central African Republic was recognized by the major European powers through various agreements and arrangements, and in 1910 the area was annexed to French Equatorial Africa (Gabon, Chad, Central Congo) as an Ubangi Shari colony. Repeated flares by the black population (1928, 1930) against the colonial masters and the exploitation of the country by private companies (especially ivory, gold and precious woods were carried out) were suppressed.

After the end of the Second World War, Ubangi Shari was declared an overseas French territory, and in 1958 it became an autonomous area within the French Union as a Central African Republic. The first elections in December 1958 were won by the Catholic priest Barth¨¦lemy Boganda, who had already founded the independence movement “Mouvement d’Evolution Sociale de l’Afrique Noire” (MESAN) in 1949. After his death only a year later, David Dacko took over the office of state leader (until 1965).

The Central African Republic was released in August 1960. In 1962, David Dacko declared his MESAN party a unified party. Four years later, he was overthrown by a military coup, and was succeeded by the chief of staff, Jean Bedel Bokassa (until 1979), who had been an officer in the French armed forces in the country for over twenty years. Bokassa set up a terrorist regime tolerated abroad, under which opposition and dissenters were eliminated. The extraction of raw materials in the Central African Republic (diamonds, uranium) started in the late 1960s.

In March 1972 Bokassa became president for life, according to AbbreviationFinder, four years later he was crowned emperor after he introduced the constitutional monarchy as a state system (“Central African Empire”).

With French support, the military coup in the country in September 1979 and toppled Bokassa (who was currently in Libya) from the throne. David Dacko, who had been overthrown by Bokassa 13 years earlier, was again head of state of the newly proclaimed republic, in which political parties were again allowed. Dacko was confirmed in office in the January 1981 presidential election. Bokassa initially went into exile, returned in 1986 and was sentenced to life in prison with forced labor.

Only a few months later there was another coup in the Central African Republic under General Andr¨¦ Kolingba, who was also supported by France. He overruled the constitution and declared himself the new head of state of the Central African Republic (until 1993), instead of the parliament a “military committee for national reconstruction” was established. Kolingba’s “Rassemblement D¨¦mocratique Centrafricain” (RDC) party was declared the only legal party.

At the beginning of the 1990s, head of state Kolingba had to agree to the approval of political parties and unions under international pressure (the Central African Republic was heavily dependent on foreign financial aid). The office of prime minister that he abolished was also reintroduced. In the first free parliamentary elections in August 1993, the successor organization to the former liberation movement, “Mouvement pour la Liberation du Peuple Centrafricain” (MPLC, founded in exile in 1979) won the majority of the votes. Ange-F¨¦lix Patass¨¦, former Prime Minister of Bokassa, became the new President of the Central African Republic. Jean-Luc Mandaba became prime minister of a coalition government of the “National Union”.

Within a short time, the new head of state was faced with allegations of corruption. In 1996, when several units in the Army demanded Patass¨¦’s resignation and mutinied against the government, there was repeated unrest in the capital, Bangui, which was ended with the help of French troops. In the following years, the conflicts between the units of the army and the government continued and armed conflicts continued.

In 1998 the French government withdrew its troops from the Central African Republic. A UN peacekeeping force (MINURCA) was stationed to oversee the disarmament of anti-government troops and to prepare new elections, which were held in December 1998. The MPLC (“Mouvement pour la Liberation du Peuple Centrafricain”) by President Ange-F¨¦lix Patass¨¦ won 47 of a total of 109 seats. Patass¨¦ was confirmed in the presidential election in September 1999 with almost 52% of the vote for another six years as president. In May 2001, a coup attempt by ex-head of state Andr¨¦ Kolingba and parts of the military occurred, which could be crushed by troops loyal to the government.

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In spring 2003, the dismissed army chief, François Boziz¨¦, took over with the support of the rebels. The constitution was repealed and the parliament dissolved. A new constitution entered into force on December 5, 2004. Boziz¨¦ was confirmed in office in May 2005 by general election for five years. Rebels from the UFDR and government troops fought in the north of the country from 2006. The armed conflict in Dafur and Chad also spread to the Central African Republic. A conflict ensued with the APRD rebel group (supporting the overthrown President Patass¨¦) in the northwest of the country; all conflicts could finally be resolved. An overall peace agreement was signed in June 2008 and an EUFOR force was stationed. A few months after the peace agreement was signed, renewed fighting broke out, particularly in the north and northeast of the country, as the government had failed to keep promises. In addition, the LRA rebel group attacked the civilian population, particularly in the southeast (Haut-Mbomou Prefecture). Military units from Uganda supported the poorly trained Central African troops in the fight against the LRA.

From December 2012, the predominantly Islamic rebel coalition S¨¦l¨¦ka gradually took over important cities. A transitional government that Boziz¨¦ continued to preside over and also included rebels failed. Rebel leader Michel Djotodia appointed himself the new head of state in March 2013. Clashes between S¨¦l¨¦ka and the Christian counter-movement “Anti-Balaka” led to a complete breakdown of public order. France sent additional troops as part of a peacekeeping mission in December 2013. Nevertheless, the humanitarian crisis has only been partially managed so far. Djotodia resigned under international pressure in January 2014. The National Transitional Council elected Cath¨¦rine Samba-Panza as interim president.

Central African Republic President