The call arrived shortly before it was Christmas. Rebels who were in league with former president of the Central African Republic, Francois Bozize were making progress on the ground to reach the country’s capital Bangui. At stake was not only the country’s security status to be exploited by terrorists but also total control of the country’s huge natural resources; timber, gold, diamonds, and maybe uranium.
In recent times, the U.S. has become more concerned with the security status of the country and has even offered more than $300million in security and humanitarian help for the last two years. For the U.S., the concern is not just the country alone but its neighbors. What takes place in the Central African Republic (CAR) doesn’t necessarily remain there.
For security specialists, diplomats and policymakers, this is a tough issue. The history of the Central African Republic has been nothing short of troubles. Jean-Bedel Bokassa removed the nation’s first president on 31st December 1965. With the assistance of the French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing’s early support, Bokassa quickly made himself emperor. He became increasingly erratic and was even accused of being cannibalistic. Finally, France became tired of his antics and moved in to restore Dacko to power. Subsequent presidents have since then failed in their quest to uplift the fortunes of the country. The United Nation’s Human Development Index has listed the country as the second-worst worldwide just above Niger.
The CAR’s religious and ethnic diversity has led to volatility as about 10% of the country’s population has given in to extremism and some of them even seized power for some period. A rush to be in control of the country’s resources has both led to violence and an increased international competition to influence the country.
The violence which took place last December was an attempt to roll back five years of progress in the country to build a democratic government and bring a complete halt to sectarian violence. This happened almost five years after the country approved a new constitution held in a referendum.
In February of 2016, Faustin Archange Touadera emerged victorious in a run-off election with 63% of the total votes. The situation deteriorated in December 2020 when various opposition groups in the country tried unsuccessfully to bring a delay to the elections. Six rebel groups that controlled about two thirds of the country’s territory came together to march on the country’s capital Bangui and remove Touadera from power.
By forty eight hours, troops from Rwanda quickly moved in to support the government troops and with Russian mercenaries help, in a month they pushed back the rebels and even took over their main base.