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C.A.R. - Post-Indepedence History

David Dacko governed the country until 1965, overseeing the country's declaration of independence on August 13, 1960. On January 1, 1966, following a swift and almost bloodless coup, Col. Jean-Bedel Bokassa assumed power as President of the Republic. Bokassa abolished the constitution of 1959, dissolved the National Assembly, and issued a decree that placed all legislative and executive powers in the hands of the president. On December 4, 1976, the republic became a monarchy with the promulgation of the imperial constitution and the proclamation of the president as Emperor Bokassa I. His regime was characterized by numerous human rights atrocities.

Following riots in Bangui and the murder of between 50 and 200 schoolchildren, former President Dacko led a successful French-backed coup against Bokassa on September 20, 1979. Dacko's efforts to promote economic and political reforms proved ineffectual, and on September 1, 1981, he in turn was overthrown in a bloodless coup by Gen. Andre Kolingba. For 4 years, Kolingba led the country as head of the Military Committee for National Recovery (CRMN). In 1985 the CRMN was dissolved, and Kolingba named a new cabinet with increased civilian participation, signaling the start of a return to civilian rule.

The process of democratization quickened in 1986 with the creation of a new political party, the Rassemblement Democratique Centrafricain (RDC), and the drafting of a new constitution that subsequently was ratified in a national referendum. General Kolingba was sworn in as constitutional President on November 29, 1986.

The constitution established a National Assembly made up of 52 elected deputies, elected in July 1987. Due to mounting political pressure, in 1991 President Kolingba announced the creation of a national commission to rewrite the constitution to provide for a multi-party system. Multi-party presidential elections were conducted in 1992 but were later cancelled due to serious logistical and other irregularities. Ange Felix Patasse won a second-round victory in rescheduled elections held in October 1993, and was re-elected for another 6-year term in September 1999.

Salary arrears, labor unrest, and unequal treatment of military officers from different ethnic groups led to three mutinies against the Patasse government in 1996 and 1997. The French succeeded in quelling the disturbances, and an African peacekeeping force (MISAB) occupied Bangui until 1998 when they were relieved by a UN peacekeeping mission (MINURCA). Economic difficulties caused by the looting and destruction during the 1996 and 1997 mutinies, energy crises, and government mismanagement continued to trouble Patasse's government through 2000.

In March 2000 the last of the MINURCA forces departed Bangui. In May 2001 rebel forces within the C.A.R. military, led by former President and Army General Andre Kolingba, attempted a military coup. After several days of heavy fighting, forces loyal to the government, aided by a small number of troops from Libya and the Congolese rebel Movement for the Liberation of the Congo (MLC), were able to put down the coup attempt. In November 2001, there were several days of sporadic gunfire between members of the Presidential Security Unit and soldiers defending sacked Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Francois Bozize, who fled to Chad. In mid-2002 there were skirmishes on the C.A.R.-Chad border.

In October 2002, former Army Chief of Staff Francois Bozize launched a coup attempt that culminated in the March 15, 2003 overthrow of President Patasse and the takeover of the capital. General Bozize declared himself President, suspended the constitution, and dissolved the National Assembly. Since seizing power, President Francois Bozize has made significant progress in restoring order to Bangui and parts of the country, and professed a desire to promote national reconciliation, strengthen the economy, and improve the human rights situation. A new constitution was passed by referendum in December 2004.

Following the 2003 coup, the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC - Communaute Economique et Monetaire de l'Afrique Centrale) and C.A.R. armed forces assumed responsibility for securing the capital city. The Economic Community of Central African States (known by its French acronym, CEEAC) took over the CEMAC forces in 2008 and established the Mission for the Consolidation of Peace in the Central African Republic (MICOPAX). MICOPAX forces totalled approximately 500 soldiers as of early 2012 and were supported by an additional 250 French soldiers. Military cooperation and training programs exist between the C.A.R. armed forces and France, South Africa, Greece, China, Morocco, and other nations.

In spring 2005, the country held its first elections since the March 2003 coup. The first round of presidential and legislative elections were held in March 2005, and in May, President Bozize defeated former Prime Minister Martin Ziguele in a second-round runoff. On June 13, Bozize named Elie Dote, an agricultural engineer who had worked at the African Development Bank, his new Prime Minister. Following a countrywide strike, Elie Dote resigned on January 18, 2008.

In September 2006, rebel activity in the northwestern and northeastern part of the country intensified, resulting in the government losing control over parts of its territory. The subsequent fighting between government troops and rebels displaced nearly 300,000 citizens. In January 2007, the Libyan Government brokered a peace agreement between the government and the Democratic Front of the Central African People (FPDC), a rebel group operating in the northeastern part of the country headed by Abdoulaye Miskine. Other rebels disavowed the peace agreement, but by May 2008, most rebel groups had either entered into a peace agreement with the government--the peace agreement with the Popular Army for the Restoration of Democracy (APRD) being the most significant--or declared a cease-fire.

In 2007, the United Nations and the European Union authorized the deployment of a multidimensional security and police presence in eastern Chad and northeastern C.A.R. with a civilian and humanitarian protection mandate. The UN component of the mission (MINURCAT) consisted of police deployed to Chad only and a multi-dimensional liaison office deployed in Chad and C.A.R. The Security Council's resolution 1861--which authorized the deployment of a military component of MINURCAT to follow up a European Union Force (EUFOR) in both Chad and the Central African Republic--extended MINURCAT's mandate for a period of 12 months beyond its March 2009 expiration.

In June 2008, the government signed the Libreville Comprehensive Peace Agreement with the APRD and the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR), led by Zakaria Damane, in Libreville, Gabon. One rebel group, the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP) remained outside of the comprehensive peace process.

The CPJP attacked the Central African Army on numerous occasions, including in November 2010 when they briefly captured the town of Birao. In June 2011, the government signed a cease-fire agreement with CPJP. Since that time, the government and CPJP have not fought; however, the CPJP engaged in skirmishes with UFDR in the northeastern region of C.A.R. in September 2011. CPJP and UFDR signed a cease-fire agreement in October 2011.

Implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, particularly its provisions granting amnesty to former fighters, furthered an Inclusive Political Dialogue (IPD) intended to help end instability in the C.A.R. In December 2008, the Inclusive Political Dialogue formally convened and issued its recommendations, which included, among other items, the establishment of a government of national unity and of an independent electoral commission in advance of planned 2010 elections. As of December 2011, the implementation of the results of the IPD remained incomplete.

In January 2009, a new coalition government was appointed. While there was little change in the governments composition, with key ministers allied with the President remaining in place, some members of the political opposition and rebel groups obtained ministerial portfolios.

In early 2010, President Bozize twice delayed constitutionally mandated elections scheduled for April and May due to a poorly functioning Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and bickering between C.A.R.s political parties. The first round of presidential and parliamentary elections took place in January 2011. The elections, though not without flaws, were held peacefully and without major incident during polling. The IEC declared President Bozize the winner of the presidential election in the first round and determined that a third of the 105 parliamentary races were also decided in this round. Nine members of President Bozizes family, also members of his KNK party, won victory in the first round.

Members of the opposition, citing irregularities in the counting process, filed 88 challenges with the Constitutional Court and called unsuccessfully for a boycott of the second round of elections, which took place in March 2011. In April 2011, the Constitutional Court invalidated the results of 13 races run in January and ordered a special election to re-run those races. In May 2011, the Constitutional Court again intervened to reverse the results of nine races in the second round March elections. A special election, also protested by the opposition, was held in September 2011. In the end, the KNK party won at least 64 of 105 parliamentary seats.

While international observers cited some irregularities in the election, the fragmented nature of the opposition likely meant that it could not pose a credible challenge to the KNK or President Bozize.

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