Conflict Profile: Central African Republic

The media tends to be the largest organ by which we, as people can expand our knowledge with regards to the current happenings in the world. Unfortunately the media tends to focus on a few select issues and discuss them “to death” as one might say. Something I hope to achieve with this blog, I hope to focus on the issues at play in our world that are not gaining as much attention as they should, if they are gaining any attention at all. Recently, Canada has been experiencing a large influx of refugees from the Central African Republic, unfortunately not many people are aware of the currently violent climate in the Central African Republic, this article will hopefully help to shed some light on what is going on in that country, as well as the importance of welcoming those seeking refuge from the many conflicts going on there.

The Central African Republic, formerly known as Ubangi-Shari, or the Central African Empire has been in a state of civil war since 2012, a conflict that has received an alarmingly low level of media attention in comparison with other world issues. The Central African Republic has arguably been unstable since it was added to the French territory in the early 1880’s. By 1894, the French had already managed to set up, and partition the area of land that would from that point become known as Ubangi-Shari. It was partitioned to be used for several modes of commercial trade at this time, which historically has lead to conflict in many other parts of Africa and the world. Partitioning an area of land that has formerly known no concrete borders often creates a climate of hostility among the locals of the region, as it brings all of their differences to the absolute forefront of the situation, hence the divide and conquer method can successfully take it’s course. Between 1920-1957, Ubangi-Shari gained a foothold in the French Parliament, which came as the result of repeated protests by indigenous members of the population, and it’s place in the Federation of French Equatorial Africa.

In 1958, the Central African Republic achieved independence with Barthelemy Boganda, (formerly the President of the Grand Council of French Equatorial Africa) acting as it’s self-allocated Prime Minister. Just a year later however, Boganda died leaving his nephew David Dacko to act as the new leader, altering the title of the role from Prime Minister to President. In 1962, Dacko declared a one-party state with his party, MESAN as the sole party. Two years later, in 1964 he was officially sworn in by process of an election where he was the only candidate in running. Dacko was unsuccessful as a leader, as the country faced a poor economy that was on the brink of declaring bankruptcy. Hence, in 1965 Jean-Bedel Bokassa an army commander took over Dacko’s position, declaring himself president for his lifetime in 1972, and later Emperor in 1975, when he re-named the country Central African Empire.

Following Bokassa’s actions, Dacko and the French military lead a successful coup against him, ending his reign. During this time many of the collateral damages included children of school-age as a result of their active involvement in protests. Dacko was also the victim of a coup lead by the army commander Andre Koligba shortly following, in the year 1981, and in 1984 it was declared that all political leaders would be granted amnesty in what appeared to be efforts to achieve a clean slate for the Central African Republic.

Although previous efforts to turn over a new leaf for the politics of the Central African Republic showed little avail, the Central African Republic moved on to allow the manifestation of various political parties. Although Ange-Felix Patasse was elected as president during this time and was able to successfully bring over a decade of military rule to an end, his entire reign was plagued by mutinies and strikes due to the fact that his government had it’s own form of corruption. Patasse was often accused of back-paying citizens in various posts, at times he was even accused of leaving wages unpaid altogether. These protests grew more violent in nature during the 1-year span from 2001-2002. Former president Andre Kolingba attempted many military to coups, which Patasse responded to with the help of Libya, Chad and rebels from the DRC. This of course, created more turmoil for the citizens of the Central African Republic.

From 2003-2012, the rebel leader Francois Bozize announces that he is the new self-declared president of the Central African Republic. His first strike in failing to stand up for his people occurs when a mass flood left 20 000 citizens homeless, and he failed to respond to the emergency. From then on, it was as though nothing had taken a turn for the better in the nation, as rebel groups continued to seize various cities, wages went unpaid, and in 2008 yet another violent group entered the Central African Republic.

This brings us to the Central African Republic of today. The Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army, still at large today the in Central African Republic, and active in many nations surrounding the area has been waging war against it’s citizens in the form of pillage, rape, kidnapping and many forms of unspeakable atrocities. The main point of this article was to bring to light the fact that, there is more than one issue plaguing today’s world, and we must stand in solidarity with all of the people seeking refuge, and braving the journey from their homeland all the way into a new world, a safer one. Something we can do as young people is be actively aware, and be apart of the discussion, though we may never be able to understand, we recognize the magnitude of what these individuals and their families have been through. We must remain aware of all those nations that are no longer safe for their citizens, and bring to light the lives of all of those citizens who are seeking a new safe haven.

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