Many wonder why most of the times very rich African and some South American countries are usually the dens of the most terrifying wars and coups. The Central African Republic was supposed to be the ‘El Dorado’ of Africa due to its rich mineral deposits which comprises of diamonds, gold, uranium, oil, and such other things. But that is not the case. Instead, the country has from antiquity moved from one coup and blood shed to another, now a tradition.
In 1964, David Dacko, in an attempt to recognize and establish diplomatic relations with China, suffered a bloody coup that was staged by his nephew, Jean-Bedel Bokassa. The coup was financed and directed by France which didn’t support the idea. The arrival of Jean-Bedel Bokassa might have been the dawn of a new political haven for the country which until then had already suffered three coups and would continue to suffer more with the passing times. Unknown to his French sponsors, Bokassa proved to be a schizophrenic black hole and the worst decision for a new state that was still breastfeeding from the joy of its independence.
Attempts from the African Union and the UN Security Council to establish peace, reconciliation and a durable central government didn’t work but once again, met their worse nightmare when Jean Michel Djotodia, rebel leader of the Muslim Seleka completed his gestation period of power hunger.
In January 2013 Ali Bongo Ondimba, president of the Republic of Gabon under the distinguished auspices of the African Union and the UN Security Council, convened a meeting between Francois Bozize, still president then, and Michel Djotodia, the leader of the Seleka rebels to discuss a friendly cease fire and amicable power sharing. The two had been involved in some very violent bullet exchanges which like always, had claimed many lives to no one’s concern. Power was and always has been the ultimate goal. The meeting was attended by all the presidents of the Central African Economic Community (CEMAC) with the exception of Cameroon that was represented by Philemon Yang, its Prime Minister.
Michel Djotodia, until then, had benefited largely from the popular support from many Chadian and Sudanese rebels who had joined the ranks of his military coalition in the north. It’s very kind to say that in 2003, Francois Bozize, in a bloodless coup, had reciprocated this action to the late Ange Felix Patasse who was democractically elected in 1993. While on a state visit to France, Bozize seized power, ending Patasse’s 12 year rule and forcing the latter to land in Cameroon because he was denied entry into his country. He later died in exile in Cameroon. The porous boarder between Chad and the Central African Republic served as a good spot for Djotodia to build and train his garrison of Muslim rebels who had just one last card to play.
One of the fundamental reasons why Bozize was easily ousted was his inability to reconcile the formal and informal institutions of the country to a holistic structure of popular and minority representation. His failure to extend his rule beyond the boundaries of Bangui, the political capital, was very consequential. Before him many other presidents had been unable to rally popular support from those out of Bangui leading to their demise. In fact, the Central Africans in other cities are more or less like refugees or better still illegal migrants in their own country. Their miseries entail no electricity, no water, very bad hospitals, no good schools coupled with high illiteracy, no jobs and the lack of the necessary opportunities that can stir up nation building. More so, the large ethnic dissensions between Bozize’s clan and his rivals paved the way for his low popularity and little support.
In March 2013 only two months after the Libreville agreements, Michele Djotodia matched into Bangui with the rebel coalition and took over the city. The 400 South African soldiers sent to protect both Bozize and other South African investments in the mining sectors couldn’t do much as Djotodia was very strong and had his hands on his game. It was his time to rule the war torn impoverished nation. Loyalist forces to Bozize bowed the knee and Bozize unable to contain his rival fled to neighboring Cameroon where he spent a few months in asylum before fleeing to Sudan.
Geo-politicians and other security experts believe that the rise of Djotodia might have been fueled by some domestic issues such as ethnic problems, the lack of a proper reconciliation committee and also the lack of professional negotiators to handle the pain of many decades. More so, his choice to bring in South African investors in the mining sector stirred up other regional concerns. Whatever the case, the harm was already done and Djotodia was the new power man of the Central African Republic.
However, before he could celebrate his victory, he fell out with the same rebel coalition that had put him in power and following the strong pressure from the international community, he was kicked out and fled the country. He was fortunate he could flee to Guinea, the homeland of one of his wives for refuge and asylum. The destabilized nation finally found itself dangling in the hands of a viable woman, Catherine Samba-Panza, who ruled the country as interim president and handed over to democratically elected Faustin Archange Tuadera, a French puppet in February 2016.
Until now, we can say the country is peaceful, but the rude religious dissension that followed Djotodia’s rise to power has brought the country to a dangerous stand still. The Seleka rebels inspired by the Quran, I am not very sure, resorted to killing scores of Christians. In retaliation, Christians formed what is known as the anti-Balaka militia which has over the last years killed many Muslims and has left others with deleterious psychological traumas. The war of the mines is another fundamental fact to reckon with, since whoever wins over the mines has the economic and political power to control the nation.
The international community is waiting to see if Mr. Faustin Archange Tuadera, who was democratically elected in 2016, will last for at most five years, for there might just be another routine coup waiting to oust him very soon. While waiting for him to form an excellent reconciliation committee, which will dare to address the many troubles of the war torn nation, its in his best interest if he expands his rule outside Bangui. Failure to do that will come with the consequential aches he is very aware of.