There is a republic in the center of Africa called the Central African Republic, which is abbreviated to CAR. The capital is apparently called Bangui. I honestly don’t think I have ever heard of this city, all though I am sure I must have had to memorize all countries and their capitals at some point in my education. Like I mentioned in my blog about Paraguay a couple of days ago, I have decided to write some blogs about countries who’s conflicts and struggles have been forgotten by the international community and the majority of people don’t even know are going on at all.
Al Jazeera informs me the republic “gained independence from France in 1960 – and has vast natural resources, including gold and diamonds, uranium, oil and forests – but remains one of the poorest countries in the world. The Human Development Index, which measures variables like life expectancy and education, ranks the Central African Republic 179th out of 187 countries.”
The Guardian made this video some months ago, that explains the current situation quite clearly:
So, reading into the matter a bit further, I have found out that the Seleka group, that is referred to in the video above is an alliance between three rebel groups. They have overrun northern and central parts of the country and in March of this year they even managed to overthrow the government, sending President Bozize into exile. Their own leader Michel Djotodia, was declared President of the Republic the same day.
In the past week Francoise Hollande has urged the UN to intervene in their former colony. France apparently already has a small force in Bangui, securing the airport. They are having a very difficult time controlling the area, small as it may be, especially since thousands of civilians fled to Bangui’s international airport this week, blocking the runway for several hours.
According to Reuters, the United Nations has affirmed that the Central African Republic is on the brink of collapse. Aid organizations say there is a complete absence of state authority outside Bangui, with roaming armed groups looting and killing at will.
What I don’t really understand is what this Seleka-group wants. Are they even pursuing a specific agenda or is looting their only mission? It doesn’t seem to be about religion. I don’t think it is about some ancient territorial claim either. Maybe a clan dispute? I haven’t found any reference to tribes or clans, as was the case in Rwanda. I’m sure this conflict did not arise out of nowhere and there is surely a long history to it but it is too much to read up on in an hour.
If you know more about this, feel free to comment!
I just read a blog on WorldWideConflicts on this very issue and it cleared up a lot of doubts I had. Not only does it explain the current situation very clearly but it also includes a link to a profile of the Seleka Coalition, that informs me that their initial goal was “the honouring of peace accords agreed upon between 2007 and 2011 and the resignation of CAR President Francois Bozize”. Now that they have succeeded in removing Bozize from power, I wonder what their policy will be built around. It doesn’t seem to be a group with a very productive vision, but who knows…