The silent corruption tearing down the Central African Republic

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A CAR woman surrounded by an armed military group.(Courtesy of Council on Foreign Relations)

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the world has started spending more attention on global and national issues which led to the increase of protests. The #BlackLivesMatter movement and even the new upcoming protests, #EndSARS, all have been contributing to more attention on all of the growing issues in this world. In comparison, one country seems to be getting little attention to the dire situation it has been in for years.

The Central African Republic is one of the poorest countries in the world, stemming from a history of violent conflicts, and it is rarely spoken of or reported on.  Ninety percent of their citizens are living in poverty and 70%  do not have access to proper meals.  Additionally, for years violent civil wars between different armed groups have harmed citizens. Kidnappings were everyday occurrences because armed groups were in dying need of young blood. Despite this, the rest of the world is still ignorant of the torture being put on the citizens.

Unlike the recent situation in Nigeria, the police force and citizens in the Central African Republic are cooperating together with the government to put an end to the violent reign of armed groups. The conflict primarily started on October 25, 2002, when François Bozizé attempted to overthrow the president at the time. In March of the next year, Bozizé managed to take control of the country and become president while at the same time displacing most of the citizens. This started the downward spiral CAR is facing up until this day. Under his rule, he announced the suspension of the Constitution and tore down their National Assembly. Countless citizens were unlawfully killed, raped, and taken away from their homes to serve in the army. 

Another prominent event happened 10 years after Bozizé’s coup, which further crippled the country:  the creation of Seleka. 

While Seleka means “alliance movement,” it is not a peaceful movement.  It is an alliance of many armed groups which coexisted in the republic for years. Once it formed Seleka launched multiple attacks against the country before signing a peace treaty on February 2, 2019. The treaty was broken shortly after in March of 2013. Ten years after Bozizé overthrew former president, Ange-Félix Patassé, he himself was overthrown by the leader of Seleka, Michel Djotodia. 

Amnesty International, released a report in October documenting: “mass killings, rape, extrajudicial executions, torture, burning of houses and villages, and enforced disappearances committed by the Seleka forces during Djotodia’s rule.” 

Back to back, the republic experienced two coup d’états which has left the country in tatters. Although they have been receiving help from the UN and neighboring countries, the citizens are fighting a lonely battle without appropriate international attention or support. 

 Then, in December 2013 a new armed force, Anti-Balaka, started a war against the Seleka. These conflicts have become religious, with the new group targeting the Muslim communities in the republic.

In May of 2015, the country hosted the Bangui Forum, a conference including members of armed groups, representatives from political parties, and civil leaders, and now the country is finally seeing an uphill rise in their fight for rights and land. The most recent achievement accomplished by the government of the republic was a peace treaty signed on February 6, 2019, with 14 armed groups that still have control over 80% of the country and commit countless crimes. As of now, the Central African Republic is still in turmoil and protests are happening every day. The citizens are still finding a way to end the corruption tearing down their country.