Central African Republic 2014
Central African Republic. According to Countryaah.com, Central African Republic population in 2020 is estimated at 4,829,778. The violence between the predominantly Muslim former rebel movement Séléka and Christian militia groups called anti-Balaka which characterized the Central African Republic in 2013 continued into the new year. At year-end, the situation in the country was estimated to be acute as close to 1 million people were on the run and about half the population depended on emergency aid.
On January 9, a summit was opened in Chad’s capital N’Djamena, organized by the Central African Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS). The following day, Michel Djotodia, Séléka’s leader who proclaimed president in March 2013, announced his departure. He went into exile in Benin and was temporarily replaced by the leader of the National Transitional Council, Alexandre-Ferdinand Nguendet. Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye also resigned.
On January 20, the Transitional Parliament voted on who would become the new interim president. People with previous contacts with either Séléka or anti-Balaka were disqualified, as were party leaders, military and those who sat in the last government. The vote was won by the capital of Bangui Mayor Catherine Samba-Panza, a successful businesswoman who was considered politically neutral. She in turn appointed André Nzapayéké, former secretary general of the African Development Bank, as new head of government. Both Samba-Panza and Nzapayéké are Christians.
Violence continued despite Djotodia’s departure, and severely affected the civilian population, both Christians and Muslims. Amnesty International reported abuses of both Séléka and antibalaka, and the latter were accused of ethnic rising targeting the country’s Muslim population. Both sides recruited a large number of child soldiers according to the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Children in Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui. In June, Catherine Samba-Panza sent a request to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to investigate the abuses committed in the country since 2012.
The fighting also made it difficult for the aid organizations to reach out with food. In May, MSF was forced to cancel its efforts in large parts of the country. The UN also said it was difficult to raise enough money for the relief effort.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon also appealed for more troops to reinforce troops already in the Central African Republic in February. At that time, the African Union had 6,000 soldiers in the country and France had sent 2,000. In April, the UN Security Council decided to send a 12,000-strong force to replace the AU troops. This month, the first 150 of the 1,000 soldiers the EU decided to send also arrived.
At the end of July, Séléka’s political branch and anti-Balaka agreed on a ceasefire, but this was rejected by Séléka’s military branch and the violence continued.
In August, a new prime minister, Mahamat Kamoun, was appointed, thus becoming the country’s first Muslim head of government since independence in 1960. Citing President Samba-Panza’s failure to take into account the views of the movement, Séléka announced that they did not intend to recognize Kamoun. However, the government appointed by Kamoun included three representatives from Séléka and just as many from anti-Balaka. The same month, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) suspended its work in Bangui after allegations that aid money paid to the government had disappeared.
Finally, in September the UN force MINUSCA took over responsibility for the international peacekeeping force in the country. Fully staffed, the force will consist of close to 12,000 soldiers. In a speech to the UN General Assembly, Catherine thanked Samba-Panza for sending the force to the Central African Republic, but she also pleaded that the arms embargo on the country would be alleviated with the argument that UN troops needed help from domestic forces.
In October, the UNHCR (UNHCR) estimated that around 800,000 people were on the run, about half of whom applied to one of the neighboring countries, primarily Cameroon.