Central African Republic - C.A.R.
CAR is less a country than a collection of fiefdoms, ruled by gang-like armed groups, where religious, military, political and ethnic factions struggle for anything that might yield revenue. It’s a state “that has long ceased to exist,” the International Crisis Group said in 2014. Central African Republic became a country whose borders exist only on maps, where governmental authority is limited mostly to the 25 square miles occupied by the capital, Bangui, if that.
The CAR is an area [calling it a "state" or a "country" would be too strong] defined by its borders on the map and not by effective state control of territory. Though named a "ghost state" in an International Crisis Group report in 2007, the CAR is perhaps better classified as a "hollow state". On the surface, the CAR appeared to function and could credibly claim that its problems were the result of demographics, AIDS, historic poverty, and isolation. But this is misleading. While it had a structure that was able to feign functionality and had agents in most parts of the country, few of these agents actually conducted the business of the state or achieved any results. It had executive, legislative, and judicial branches, and a military, but outside of disparate geographic pockets, its control was exceedingly limited.
As of 2010, 90 percent of the uranium deposits in Bakouma were owned by Uramin, a private corporation in which Areva, the French nuclear giant, is 100 percent shareholder. The impact of this set up is exacerbated by the fact that 75 percent of France's energy is derived from nuclear sources, giving Areva and France significant financial interest in what happens in the CAR.
Nomadic and seminomadic cattle herders are generally not welcome in agricultural areas. Clashes develop when the herders come under attack, and then retaliate. Almost inevitably, the fighting takes on religious or ethnic overtones. The seasonal migration of cattle from north to south leads to further violence. Herders allow their livestock to roam over cultivated land — a common practice that is one of the root causes of bad relations between herders and farmers. Providing vaccination services for cattle might persuade herders to follow recommended trails instead.
The population is 4.5 million, according to a 2011 World Bank estimate. According to the 2003 census, the population is 51 percent Protestant, 29 percent Roman Catholic, and 15 percent Muslim. Others incorporate aspects of indigenous beliefs into Christian and Islamic practice. Muslims continued to face consistent social discrimination and, in many cases, by 2012 were presumed to be sympathetic to rebel groups which were predominantly Muslim. Muslim-owned shops were frequently vandalized and, in some cases, vigilantes subjected Muslims to harassment, beating, and detention.
The Central African Republic (CAR) gained independence from France in 1960 but has since seen many conflicts, coups and uprisings. This land-locked nation has known little but instability since independence. In 2008, the Central African Republic ranked 178 out of 179 on the Human Development Index. CAR and the Democratic Republic of Congo were the only countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that had not improved human development since the 1980s. In 2011, the Central African Republic ranked 178 out of 187 on the Human Development Index.
Despite massive natural wealth that should provide a comfortable standard of living for its 4.3 million inhabitants, the CAR continues to struggle with extreme poverty, malnutrition, rampant banditry and several festering insurgencies. Periodic skirmishes persist over water and grazing rights among related pastoral populations along the border with southern Sudan. Factional fighting between the government and its opponents remains a hindrance to revitalization. The Central African Republic is one of the world's least developed nations, and despite an on-going peace process and the presence of a democratically-elected government in the capital, Bangui, rebels are still active in large portions of the country's northern and eastern provinces.
Governance in the Central African Republic (CAR) was extremely weak due to numerous political upheavals dating back to the 1980s. Instability endures as a result of the presence of multiple insurgent groups, bands of highway robbers active throughout the north, an extremely weak and often ineffective military, and limited state presence outside of Bangui. While the CAR Government has shown improvement in its financial management, it remains deeply underfunded and relies heavily on donor support.
The fundamental problem of the CAR was at least thirty years of weak and corrupt governments that failed (if they even attempted) to forge a national consensus and develop the country. Rebel groups were merely one symptom of the disease of poor governance - not the root cause of instability. Similarly, cross border adventures into the CAR by Chadians and Sudanese were not symptoms of the spread of the Chad/Sudan/Darfur conflict. Most Chadians and Sudanese who were active in the CAR were there as opportunists or at the invitation of various CAR factions looking for experienced help.
The international community and the government of the Central African Republic (CARG) had attached much importance to Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration (DDR) as the solution to the Central African Republic's (CAR) long running conflict. This would appear logical - disarm the rebels and reintegrate them back in to a peaceful society. This process, promoted by the United Nations (UN) in the Central African Republic (CAR) was beset by problems such as the slow roll out of the program, mismanagement of funds by the government (CARG) and difficulty raising funds from the international community. Despite an agreement reached in April 2009 that produced a list of rebels to be disarmed and the acceptance by the CARG to use money granted by the Economic Community of Central African States (CEMAC) for DDR for its expressed purpose, observers placed too much faith in the process as a solution to the CAR's ills.
Until the CAR Government had the means, and more importantly, the will, to fill the vacuum left behind by disarmed groups, both on a security and economic front, the effort was unlikely to accomplish its goals. And beyond that was the overarching problem that the CAR was a failed state - there was simply no economy into which former combatants can be "reintegrated."
Witchcraft or sorcery is a crime punishable by execution, although no one accused of witchcraft received the death penalty recently. Most individuals convicted of sorcery received sentences of 1 to 5 years in prison; they can also be fined up to $1,500 (817,836 CFA francs). There were two prisons in Bangui: Ngaragba central prison for men and Bimbo central prison for women. Bimbo's population consisted primarily of pretrial detainees, most of them women accused of sorcery. Prison officials at Bimbo central prison for women said accused witches were detained for their own safety since village mobs sometimes killed suspected witches. In late 2005 Bangui prison officials estimated that 50 to 60 percent of female detainees were arrested in connection with charges of witchcraft. Human rights observers said the belief in witchcraft was so entrenched that attempts to abolish legal recognition of the crime would be very difficult; however, observers said they were continuing to push for fair trials of the accused.
During a typical trial of someone accused of sorcery, traditional doctors were called to give their opinion of the suspect's ties to sorcery. "Truth herbs" were used to make a suspect "confess." Neighbors were called as witnesses and, because spells were believed to involve burying bits of clothing, sample cuttings of clothes were brought before the jury as evidence. Police and gendarmes conducted investigations into witchcraft, and according to the minister of justice, investigations into allegations of sorcery were difficult. Authorities said that police often arrested and detained persons accused of witchcraft or sorcery in order to protect them from societal violence against suspected witches or sorcerers in the communities of the accused. Mobs reportedly continued to kill and injure suspected sorcerers or witches.
Recent Developments - 2016
Candidates Faustin Touadera and Anicet Dologuele received enough voter support to advance to a second round of the Central African Republic's presidential race, results released 01 January 2015 showed. The counting of ballots was continuing in Bangui, the capital, but with roughly two-thirds of them tallied, Touadera, a former prime minister in the government of ousted president Francois Bozize, led with 31,000 votes. Dologuele, also a former prime minister, had garnered 28,000 votes.
Former prime minister Faustin Archange Touadera was in the lead to become the Central African Republic’s next president, initial election results showed. A quarter of the votes in the Central African Republic’s elections had been counted as of 04 January 2016, with Faustin Archange Touadera, who served as prime minister under long-running President Francois Bozize, the current favorite of thirty candidates.
The top two presidential hopefuls went head to head in a run-off election on 14 February 2016. Former Prime Minister Faustin Archange Touadera’s campaign made much of his record as prime minister between 2008 and 2013, when he is said to have fought corruption and paid salaries regularly. The other former prime minister in the runoff, Anicet Georges Dologuele, agreed to a political pact last year with former President Francois Bozize, which helped him win the first round of the election in December with 23 percent of the vote. But only three of the 29 other candidates in that round have said they would back Dologuele in round two, while 20 have said they would back Touadera, who finished second in the first round with 19 percent support.
Faustin Archange Touadera was declared the winner of the February 14 presidential election on 20 February 2016. Marie Madeleine Nkoet, president of the national election authority, said Touadera had come in first with 695,000 votes, or 62.7 percent. Georges Anicet Dologuele, who came in first in the first round, obtained just over 413,000 votes in the runoff, or 37.3 percent, she said. Out of 1.95 million registered voters, 1.15 million cast ballots, about 59 percent.
France will stop military operations in the Central African Republic later in 2016 after France's defense minister said March 30, 2016 its objectives had been achieved. The mission, dubbed Operation Sangaris, began in 2013 as the country was being consumed by ethnic violence between Christians and Muslims and people were dying by the thousands. "The country was in the throes of civil war, torn by religious tensions, plagued by chaos, on the brink of pre-genocidal scenarios. In the space of two years, the Sangaris force restored calm and prevented the unacceptable,” Jean-Yves Le Drian said before a group of French soldiers stationed at the M’Poko airport.
The pullout of French troops will coincide with the build-up of a coalition force of 12,000 troops from the United Nations and European Union. About 300 French troops will stay in the country and be part of the coalition force.
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