The political system is built on the French model. In reality, however, the political struggle does not take place within the framework of the democratic institutions. Constitutions and laws appear most backstage on the political scene. Military coups and armed violence have characterized the republic since its independence in 1960.
After the rebel movement Séléka overthrew President François Bozizé in March 2013 (see Modern History), self-proclaimed President Michel Djotodia repealed the 2004 constitution.
- Countryaah: Total population and chart of Central African Republic for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024. Also covers population density, birth rate, death rate and population growth rates.
It was replaced by a new constitution in spring 2016, which had previously been approved by 90 percent of voters in a referendum. According to it, the president is head of state and is elected in general elections for a term of five years. The President has the right to stand for re-election once. The executive power lies with the president. It is also they who appoint the government on the advice of a prime minister. The legislative power lies with the 140 members of the National Assembly who are elected for a term of five years. The constitution also paves the way for a Senate whose members are also to be appointed for five years. Neither MPs nor members of the Constitutional Court have any immunity from prosecution for really serious crimes such as high treason.
Short for CT by Abbreviationfinder, Central African Republic is divided into 14 administrative areas, prefectures and two economic areas: Gribingui and Sangha. The capital city of Bangui has a special status.
Party politics is characterized by ethnic and geographical belonging. The political parties do not target the entire nation but represent different peoples groups and are prepared to fight hard – often by force – for the interests of their own group. In the new National Assembly elected in the spring of 2016, none of the traditional parties gained any strong position, as many as 60 of the 140 members were elected as independent.
Traditionally, the river peoples in the south (see Population and Languages) have had the political power, but when Ange-Félix Patassé was elected president in 1993 it meant that the savannah people in the north strengthened their position. Patassé gathered the peoples of the north and northwest of the Central African People’s Liberation Movement (Mouvement pour la libération du Peuple centrafricaine, MLPC) was founded in 1979. MLPC ruled the country from 1993 to March 2003, when the former army chief François Bozizé seized power in a military coup (see Modern History).
In 2005, businessmen and politicians formed the partial alliance National Unification Movement Kwa Na Kwa (Convergence nationale kwa na kwa) in support of Bozizé.
Another party that has played an important role in politics is the Central African Democratic Collection (Rassemblement démocratique centrafricaine, RDC), which was the only allowed party between 1987 and 1992. The RDC has traditionally had its support among the Yakoma River people in the south. Former party leader André Kolingba was president from 1981 to 1993.
Bozizé, after his fall from power (see above), formed a political movement in exile, the Front to restore the constitutional order in Central Africa (Front pour le retour à l’ordre constitutionnel en Centrafrique, FROC) as an attempt to get money and negotiations with money back its influence in the Central African Republic.
A large number of armed groups of varying size and character are ravaging the country. Within each group there are different factions, which sometimes change loose.
Developments in the northern parts of the country have been neglected since the colonial era. Here, the lack of work and basic social institutions is particularly great, which has been the breeding ground for a number of rebel movements over the past decade.
In the fall of 2012, several rebel groups formed a new force called Séléka (the word means alliance in the Sango language) that quickly marched against Bangui and overthrew the then president (see Modern History and Calendar).
Séléka also had its base in the Muslim-dominated northeastern part of the country and the majority of those who joined were Muslims. However, the movement had no religious goals, such as the introduction of an Islamic social order. The reason for the dissatisfaction was, among other things, the living conditions in the north and the disappointment that the promises from previous peace agreements were not fulfilled. Séléka also included mercenaries from Chad and Sudan.
During his offensive, Séléka plundered and killed many civilians (see Modern History). Especially Christians came into the fray and the non-Muslim population formed self-defense groups against Séléka. They often consisted of young men from the countryside who saw how Séléka burned their villages and killed many of their families. After losing everything, they went to the capital to demand revenge. These militia, anti-Balakas, eventually joined former soldiers of the government army, who supported Bozizé, as well as criminal groups and other civilians who said they wanted to clean the capital and the entire country from Muslims.
Anti-balaka is often described as a Christian militia but many of its followers are animists, that is, they profess to traditional African religions. Anti-balaka means anti-machete in the Sango language and is said to have this meaning in the countryside, but in the cities the term refers to how, through magic (a voodoo amulet), it protects itself from being damaged by bullets (balles) and weapons (AK = kalajsnikovs).
Séléka disbanded in September 2013 but many of its members refused to lay down their weapons and formed new groups that continued the fighting (read more in Modern History and Current Politics).
14 different militia groups participated in the negotiations that led to a peace agreement in 2019, the eighth agreement in six years.
The Ugandan rebel group Lord’s Liberation Army (LRA) also operates in the Central African Republic to forcefully recruit members and procure supplies. The LRA has killed and taken away many civilians in the country but in recent years the violence on the part of the LRA has decreased.
In addition, more or less well-organized criminal gangs are ravaging the country.
The judiciary and human rights
According to the Constitution of 2016, the judicial system should be independent of the authorities, but in practice it is influenced by the government. There is a Constitutional Court with nine judges, a Court of Cassation and a Court of Auditors. The Supreme Court is the Supreme Court.
The courts work poorly, partly because there is no qualified staff. Corruption is widespread within the legal system as it is common for employees not to receive their salaries.
The death penalty is found in the legislation, but is rarely sentenced. In 2002, President André Kolingba was sentenced to death in his absence for a coup attempt in 2001.
In 2018, the Central African Republic ranked 149th out of 180 countries on the organization Transparency International’s corruption index.
According to the UN, the conflict had claimed about 5,000 casualties from the end of 2012 through the summer of 2015. One million people had been forced to flee and many homes had been burned down. Sexual violence was also widespread. Soldiers from the foreign peace forces are also accused of committing sexual abuse of children.
Since the national judicial system has proved inadequate, the members of the court must be both national and international. Prosecutors should always come from abroad. The Special Court shall cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC).
According to UN estimates at the beginning of 2014, there were between 6,000 and 8,000 children in the various armed groups who were forced to commit abuse. In 2015, the government and the armed groups in the country agreed that child soldiers should be released. But how many who have really ended up as soldiers are uncertain.
In September 2014, the ICC announced that it would formally begin to investigate allegations of war crimes in the Central African Republic. ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said both sides of the conflict were guilty of serious crimes such as murder, rape, forced displacement and recruitment of child soldiers. In 2018, Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona and Alfred Yekatom, who both played a leading role in the anti-Balaka militia, were arrested and handed over to the ICC.
The ICC is already pursuing a target that includes suspected war crimes in the Central African Republic. In 2009, Congolese opposition leader and former rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba was indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Among other things, Bemba was accused of abuses committed by his forces and government soldiers in the Central African Republic in 2002, when they helped the then president defeat a coup attempt. Bemba was convicted in 2016 of murders and rapes committed by his rebels in the neighboring country to 18 years in prison. He was found guilty of five counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The prosecutor had been in prison for 25 years. Bemba, who was Vice President of Congo-Kinshasa 2003-2006, thus became the person of the highest rank judged by the ICC. He was also the first to be convicted of sexual violence in wartime.).
Fighting breaks out in the north
Fighting breaks out between government forces and a rebel group called the Union of Democratic Unity Forces (UFDR) in the north of the country. The Rebels had helped Bozizé to power in 2003 but later became dissatisfied with him. Thousands of residents flee to Chad to escape the violence and lawlessness in the north.
Bozizé wins the presidential election
François Bozizé wins the presidential election after he has banned his main opponent, the deposed President Patassé, from running for candidacy. In the parliamentary elections, the newly formed Bozizétrogna National unity movement Kwa Na Kwa becomes the largest party coalition.