The Central African Republic, commonly referred to as CAR, gained their independence from France in 1960 and held their first multi-party elections in 1993; however, CAR has struggled to create a stable government. In 2003 Army General François Bozizé rebelled against the leader that was elected. Bozizé took and held power from 2003 to 2011, when Central Africans began to see him as an autocratic leader.
This new view of Bozizé as an autocratic leader caused rebel groups to become active in the north and northeast. The main rebel group against Bozizé is Séléka, a group which was previously loyal to Bozizé. Séléka, which mainly consists of northern civilians, is upset about the underdevelopment of the northern area. Séléka gained supporters from Chad and Sudan, and in 2013 overthrew Bozizé.
Séléka’s leader, Michel Djotodia, a Muslim, took power over the mainly Christian state of CAR. From there, Séléka led attacks against civilians, which resulted in a UN resolution. This resolution allowed France to release troops in CAR to stabilize the capital but they have been unsuccessful. Michel Djotodia led for a few months before he resigned after pressure from external governments. This resignation caused many Muslims to flee CAR out of fear of retaliation from self-defense militias.
The self-defense militia, Anti-Balaka, is a Christian group who is seeking revenge for the attacks by Séléka. Anti-Balaka views all Muslims as collaborators of Séléka. The fighting between Séléka and Anti-Balaka is motivated by economic and political factors.
There are 2.5 million people in CAR in need of humanitarian assistance; however, the humanitarian assistance is limited due to underfunding. The UN estimates 1 million civilians have been displaced or forced to flee due to the continuing fighting. The UN has tried to end the violence in CAR with peacemaking, but the government is too unstable for it to make a difference. Without a significant intervention, the situation in CAR will continue to escalate.
Title: Behind the Headlines: Drivers of Violence in the Central African Republic
Title: Central African Republic