Tis’ Election Season, V

Source: VOA News

What’s the Chop?

Since its independence from France in 1960, the Central African Republic (CAR) has been a hotbed of lawlessness, having experienced some of the worst violence in the region. Despite this, its citizens went to the polls in December 2020 — unfortunately, those elections have fuelled a devastating armed conflict.

Tell me about the elections.

President Faustin-Archange Touadéra, first elected in 2016, was the favourite amongst the 17 candidates. He won 54% of the votes, but 10 of the candidates have called for an annulment, asserting that about 60% of prospective voters were not able to cast their ballots due to violence by various rebel groups. These groups are said to be supported by none other than the former President of CAR, François Bozizé. Even though he wasn’t on the ballot, he was clearly fighting to win something.

What’s Bozizé got to do with it?

Bozizé came into power in 2003 in a coup (his second attempt, by the way) that evolved to a full scale war, which resulted in thousands of deaths and displaced people. After a couple years of complete disorder, in order to foster peace, all disgruntled parties were brought together by the government and international bodies like the UN, and signed a peace treaty in 2007.

Flash forward to 2012: another war broke out when a coalition of rebel groups (a group known as Séléka) accused the government of failing to abide by the peace agreement. Bozizé was overthrown after months of fighting and the Séléka leader Michel Djotodia declared himself president. Bozizé fled. President Djotodia eventually resigned due to international pressure, and an election was held in 2016 where Touadéra was elected president.

Yet, that wasn’t the end of Bozizé?

Bozizé returned in 2019 and expressed an interest to run in the 2020 elections. He was still pretty influential and was said to have stood the best chance of challenging Touadéra. However, the courts weren’t having it — they barred him from running, because of his past crimes. Bozizé didn’t take this lightly, and his reaction and response has had pretty grim effects.

How so?

Rumour has it that he colluded with the rebels to disrupt the elections. Rebels attacked various towns and prevented thousands of people from getting their voters’ cards. On election day, they are said to have attacked polling stations to keep people from voting.

Post-elections, these armed rebels have continued to terrorise civilians and have even demanded the cancellation of the election results. Tension between the armed rebels and security officers supported by forces from Rwanda, Russia, France and the United Nations, continues to rise. And, what’s worse, a humanitarian crisis is brewing — citizens are prevented from accessing food, medicine and supplies. The CAR government has now declared a state of emergency.

Your Takeaway

Based on President Touadéra’s first term, he just might be the man to help ease some of the tensionDuring his first term, there was a reprieve in the violence in the country after he extended olive branches to the rebels and included them in government efforts to promote peace. The economy also grew — albeit slowly — and the welfare of civil servants and education were a priority. If he’s able to harness those same powers to dialogue with Bozizé as well as those on the other side of the divide, a new dawn could be on the horizon for the Central African Republic.

What can I do?

Things are a bit bleak and lots of people in the Central African Republic are in desperate need for help. You can start by donating to the Central African Republic Humanitarian Fund. Read more about the crisis and see if you can find other other organisations to donate to.




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A platform for the delivery of bite-sized news content focused on Africa. To get the dish weekly in your inbox, subscribe here: https://bit.ly/2XiiMGI

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