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Central African Republic

CAR has experienced a decade of successive coup attempts and army mutinies. Ange-Félix Patassé's government was installed in 1993. Shortly after this, France, the former colonial power, stopped paying salaries to public servants. The Patassé government failed to consistently provide these salaries, leading to continuous strikes by education and health professionals and multiple army mutinies. Patassé survived seven coup attempts during his time in office, mainly thanks to the assistance of Libyan troops and the Mouvement de Libération du Congo (MLC) from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These forces largely withdrew following the December 2002 deployment of peacekeepers from the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (known under its French acronym: CEMAC). On March 15, 2003, General François Bozize and his followers, supported by troops from Chad, stayed a successful coup d'état while Patassé was out of the country. An 18-month transition period was then declared to prepare general elections slated to take place in January 2005. A consensus government (several political parties represented) and a Conseil National de Transition (CNT) - in which civil society has a voting majority - have been set up to lead this transition in a spirit of political consensus, dialogue and national reconciliation.

A national dialogue for reconciliation was held from October 6 to November 27, 2003 with 350 delegates in attendance. Three of the main political recommendations that resulted were: 1) the adoption of a new constitution; 2) revision of the Electoral Code; and 3) the establishment of a new census-based electoral list. Security forces (military and police) have been strengthened but the security situation remains volatile. Remnants of the Forces Armées Centrafricaines (FACA), as well as other armed groups that appear to operate outside any formal command and control structure, are still active in various parts of the country.


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Photo Credits: First picture on left Guy Tillim. Others by UN/DPI