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What’s Next for the Central African Republic?

Seleka rebels now hold the capital city of Bangui.

Seleka rebels now hold the capital city of Bangui.

On Wednesday March 20, Seleka rebels in the Central African Republic (CAR) called off a truce negotiated at the beginning of 2013 and began an invasion of several towns on their way to the capital of Bangui. The rebels claimed that President François Bozizé failed to live up to the original agreement by expelling nearly 2,000 South African troops and integrating the rebels into the nation’s army.

The initial insurgence commenced in late 2012 due to a claim that Bozizé renege on an earlier deal that would provide jobs and money to rebels that laid down their arms. A regional force comprised of troops from Chad and South Africa halted the rebels original advance just 60 miles from Bangui.

The latest rebellion by the Seleka — a conglomerate of various rebel groups unhappy with the current administration — would not be turned away so easily.  After having captured the northern towns of Bouca and Batangafo, and insisting that the only solution is for President Bozizé to step down due to his failure to commit to either peace agreement, the Seleka turned their attention to Bangui, gaining control of the capital on March 24th, despite clashing with South African troops in the city, reportedly killing 13 before they gained control. President Bozizé fled the country and is presently holed up in a hotel in Cameroon, deciding his next move.

Since Sunday, the leader of the rebel group, Michel Djotodia, suspended the constitution, dissolved parliament and announced the beginning of a three-year transitional government. There are reports of human rights abuses committed by the rebel forces, but in general they had sustained a calm atmosphere within the city. Djotodia has named himself president and received the blessings and support of the military chiefs.

Although Seleka joined the power sharing coalition government in January, with Djotodia becoming the defence minister, the group recalled all senior Seleka leaders in the government and demanded that South African troops guarding the capital withdraw.

With the CAR as a former colony, France called for the United Nations (UN) Security Council to convene to discuss the deteriating security situation in the volatile land-locked country in Central Africa. With the UN condemning the attacks, but doing little else.

South Africa is preparing to deploy more troops to the tumultuous landscape of the CAR, despite a rise of questions regarding the motives and mission of the troops previously stationed there.

The CAR has maintained a tumultuous and bloody history since it gained its independence in 1960 during the post-colonial period in the mid-20th century across Africa. A series of coups and oppressive authoritarian governments have plagued development leaving the country near the bottom of the United Nations Human Development Index. Most people live on just over $2 USD per day. All of this poverty remains rampant despite rich mineral deposits of gold, diamonds and uranium. A story all-too-familiar in the political landscape of Central Africa.

The CAR has also been a recent victim of Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), with the violent pludering of villages first occurring in early 2008 and a rise in attacks in 2012. The southeast corner of the country remains in disarray due to an incumbent fear of the LRA.

The situation for the citizens of the CAR continues to falter due in part to a series of bloody regime changes like this one, repeated coups, corruption and the failure of the government to provide basic necessities, such as protection, in spite of the vast mineral wealth.

A plethora of questions face the population in the wake of the latest disturbance. Will the Seleka actually create a democratic governmental system, or will they, like their predecessors, create a corrupt autocratic government, further stunting development of the populace? Will President Bozize remain in exile? Will he return with his South African and Chadian allies in an attempt to regain his power? Will a bloody civil war erupt as a result of a power stuggle?

Seemingly caught in limbo until many of these questions are answered, the citizens are the ones that continue to suffer. Forced to flee the capital due to the invasion by the Seleka, those who escaped the vast human rights abuses occurring will return home to looted houses and stores, in addition to a void of uncertainty surrounding the newly changed governmental regime. One thing is for sure, an internal conflict will only lead to the demise of the inhabitants at the hands of combatants, as well as encourage groups such as the LRA to use the chaos to unleash their own brand of violence against innocence. Outside forces such as the African Union must act quickly to calm the pending storm before it erupts.  Otherwise the people will fall victim to a series of armed militias and government troops. The situation remains fragile, and all involved must act with the people’s best interests in mind. Unfortunately, a peaceful outcome seems unlikely.




Daniel Donovan

Daniel is the Executive Director of a non-profit development organization that focuses on building infrastructure and training in rural Sub-Saharan Africa called the African Community Advancement Initiative ( . He has a Master's degree graduate in International Relations with an emphasis on conflict resolution and development in Sub-Saharan Africa. Coupled with his extensive financial background, Daniel also works as a consultant for Consultancy Africa Intelligence in Pretoria and the Centre for Global Governance and Public Policy in Abu Dhabi. In addition to his work at FPA, he is also a regular contributor to The Continent Observer and International Policy Digest. He currently resides in Denver, CO.