In the preceding Central African Republic Bush War (2004–2007), the government of President François Bozizé fought with rebels until a peace agreement in 2007. The current conflict arose when a new coalition of varied rebel groups, known as Séléka, accused the government of failing to abide by the peace agreements, captured many towns in 2012 and seized the capital in 2013. Bozizé fled the country, and the rebel leader Michel Djotodia declared himself President.Renewed fighting began between Séléka and militias opposed to them called Anti-balaka. In September 2013, President Djotodia disbanded the Séléka coalition, which had lost its unity after taking power, and resigned in 2014. He was replaced by Catherine Samba-Panza, but the conflict continued. In July 2014, ex-Séléka factions and Anti-balaka representatives signed a ceasefire agreement. By the end of 2014, the country was de facto partitioned with the Anti-Balaka controlling the south and west, from which most Muslims had evacuated, and ex-Séléka groups controlling the north and east.Faustin-Archange Touadéra, who was elected President in 2016, ran and won the 2020 election, that triggered the main rebel factions to form an alliance opposed to the election called the Coalition of Patriots for Change, which was coordinated by former President Bozizé. Peacekeeping largely transitioned from the ECCAS led MICOPAX to the African Union led MISCA to the United Nations led MINUSCA, while the French peacekeeping mission was known as Operation Sangaris.
Much of the tension is over religious identity between MuslimSéléka fighters and ChristianAnti-balaka, and ethnic differences among ex-Séléka factions, and historical antagonism between agriculturalists, who largely comprise Anti-balaka, and nomadic groups, who constitute most Séléka fighters. Other contributing factors include the struggle for control of diamonds and other resources in the resource rich country and for influence among regional powers such as Chad, Sudan and Rwanda and international powers such as France and Russia. More than 1.1 million people have fled their homes in a country of about 5 million people, the highest ever recorded in the country.
In 2008, the regional organization ECCAS (light and dark blue) formed MICOPAX, taking over peacekeeping from FOMUC, which was established by the economic community, CEMAC (light blue subset only).
On 13 April 2007, a peace agreement between the government and the UFDR was signed in Birao. The agreement provided for an amnesty for the UFDR, its recognition as a political party, and the integration of its fighters into the army. Further negotiations resulted in a Libreville Global Peace Accord agreement in 2008 for reconciliation, a unity government, local elections in 2009 and parliamentary and presidential elections in 2010. The new unity government that resulted was formed in January 2009. On 12 July 2008, with the waning of the Central African Republic Bush War, the larger overlapping regional economic community to CEMAC called the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), replaced FOMUC, whose mandate was largely restricted to security, with the Central African Peacebuilding Mission (MICOPAX), who had a broader peace building mandate.
Rebel groups alleged that Bozizé had not followed the terms of the 2007 agreement and that there continued to be political abuses, especially in the northern part of the country, such as "torture and illegal executions".
In August 2012 a peace agreement was signed between the government and the CPJP. On 20 August 2012, an agreement was signed between a dissident faction of the CPJP, led by Colonel Hassan Al Habib calling itself Fundamental CPJP, and the Patriotic Convention for Saving the Country (CPSK). Al Habib announced that, in protest of the peace agreement, the Fundamental CPJP was launching an offensive dubbed "Operation Charles Massi", in memory of the CPJP founder who was allegedly tortured and murdered by the government, and that his group intended to overthrow Bozizé. In September, Fundamental CPJP, using the French name Alliance CPSK-CPJP, took responsibility for attacks on the towns of Sibut, Damara and Dekoa, killing two members of the army. It claimed that it had killed two additional members of the Central African Armed Forces (FACA) in Damara, capturing military and civilian vehicles, weapons including rockets, and communications equipment, and launched unsuccessful assault on a fourth town, Grimari, and promised more operations in the future.Mahamath Isseine Abdoulaye, president of the pro-government CPJP faction, countered that the CPJP was committed to the peace agreement and the attacks were the work of Chadian rebels, saying this group of "thieves" would never be able to march on Bangui. Al Habib was killed by FACA on 19 September in Daya, a town north of Dekoa.
On 26 December, hundreds of protesters surrounded the French embassy accusing the former colonial power of failing to help the army.Josué Binoua, the CAR's minister for territorial administration, requested that France intervenes in case the rebels, now only 75 km (47 mi) away, manage to reach the capital Bangui. On 27 December, Bozizé asked the international community for assistance. French President François Hollande rejected the appeal, saying that French troops would only be used to protect French nationals in CAR, and not to defend Bozizé's government. Reports indicated that the U.S. military was preparing plans to evacuate "several hundred" American citizens, as well as other nationals.Gabonese General Jean-Félix Akaga, commander of the Economic Community of Central African States' (ECCAS) Multinational Force of Central Africa (FOMAC), said the capital was "fully secured" by the troops from its MICOPAX peacekeeping mission, adding that reinforcements should arrive soon. However, military sources in Gabon and Cameroon denied the report, claiming no decision had been taken regarding the crisis.
Government soldiers launched a counterattack against rebel forces in Bambari on 28 December, leading to heavy clashes, according to a government official. Several witnesses over 60 km (37 mi) away said they could hear detonations and heavy weapons fire for a number of hours. Later, both a rebel leader and a military source confirmed the military attack was repelled and the town remained under rebel control. At least one rebel fighter was killed and three were wounded in the clashes, and the military's casualties were unknown.
Meanwhile, the foreign ministers in the ECCAS announced that more troops from the Multinational Force for Central Africa (FOMAC) would be sent to the country to support the 560 members of the MICOPAX mission already present. The announcement was done by Chad's Foreign Minister Moussa Faki after a meeting in the Gabonese capital Libreville. At the same time, ECCAS Deputy Secretary-General Guy-Pierre Garcia confirmed that the rebels and the CAR government had agreed to unconditional talks, with the goal to get to negotiations by 10 January at the latest. In Bangui, the U.S. Air Force evacuated around 40 people from the country, including the American ambassador. The International Committee of the Red Cross also evacuated eight of its foreign workers, though local volunteers and 14 other foreigners remained to help the growing number of displaced people.
Rebel forces took over the town of Sibut without firing a shot on 29 December, as at least 60 vehicles with CAR and Chadian troops retreated to Damara, the last city standing between Séléka and the capital. In Bangui, the government ordered a 7 pm to 5 am curfew and banned the use of motorcycle taxis, fearing they could be used by rebels to infiltrate the city. Residents reported many shop-owners had hired groups of armed men to guard their property in anticipation of possible looting, as thousands were leaving the city in overloaded cars and boats. The French military contingent rose to 400 with the deployment of 150 additional paratroopers sent from Gabon to Bangui M'Poko International Airport. French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault again stressed that the troops were only present to "protect French and European nationals" and not deal with the rebels.
On 30 December, President Bozizé agreed to a possible national unity government with members of the Séléka coalition. On 2 January 2013, the president took over as the new head of the defense ministry from his son and dismissed army chief Guillaume Lapo. Meanwhile, rebel spokesman Col. Djouma Narkoyo confirmed that Séléka had stopped their advance and will enter peace talks due to start in Libreville on 8 January, on the precondition that government forces stop arresting members of the Gula tribe. The rebel coalition confirmed it would demand the immediate departure of President Bozizé, who had pledged to see out his term until its end in 2016. By 1 January reinforcements from FOMAC began to arrive in Damara to support the 400 Chadian troops already stationed there as part of the MICOPAX mission. With rebels closing in on the capital Bangui, a total of 360 soldiers were sent to boost the defenses of Damara – Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 120 each from Gabon, Republic of the Congo and Cameroon, with a Gabonese general in command of the force.Jean-Félix Akaga, the Gabonese general in charge of the MICOPAX force, sent by the ECCAS, declared that Damara represented a "red line that the rebels cannot cross", and that doing so would be "a declaration of war" against the 10 members of the regional bloc. France had further boosted its presence in the country to 600 troops. On 6 January, South African President Jacob Zuma announced the deployment of 400 troops to CAR to assist the forces already present there.
On 11 January 2013, a ceasefire agreement was signed in Libreville, Gabon. On 13 January, Bozizé signed a decree that removed Prime Minister Faustin-Archange Touadéra from power, as part of the agreement with the rebel coalition. The rebels dropped their demand for President François Bozizé to resign, but he had to appoint a new prime minister from the opposition by 18 January 2013. On 17 January, Nicolas Tiangaye was appointed Prime Minister. The terms of the agreement also included that National Assembly of the Central African Republic be dissolved within a week with a year-long coalition government formed in its place and a new legislative election be held within 12 months (with the possibility of postponement). In addition, the temporary coalition government had to implement judicial reforms, amalgamate the rebel troops with the Bozizé government's troops to establish a new national military, set up the new legislative elections, as well as introduce other social and economic reforms. Furthermore, Bozizé's government was required to free all political prisoners imprisoned during the conflict, and foreign troops must return to their countries of origin. Under the agreement, Séléka rebels were not required to give up the cities they have taken or were then occupying, allegedly as a way to ensure that the Bozizé government would not renege on the agreement. Bozizé would be allowed to remain president until new presidential elections in 2016.
On 23 January 2013, the ceasefire was broken, with the government blaming Séléka and Séléka blaming the government for allegedly failing to honor the terms of the power-sharing agreement. By 21 March, the rebels had advanced to Bouca, 300 km from the capital Bangui. On 22 March, the fighting reached the town of Damara, 75 km from the capital.
On 18 March 2013, the rebels, having taken over Gambo and Bangassou, threatened to take up arms again if their demands for the release of political prisoners, the integration of their forces into the national army and for South African soldiers to leave the country were not met within 72 hours. Three days later, they took control of the towns of Damara and Bossangoa. By 23 March, they entered Bangui. On 24 March, rebels reached the Presidential Palace in the centre of the capital. The Presidential Palace and the rest of the capital soon fell to rebel forces and Bozizé fled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which was followed by widespread looting in the capital. By 2 April, only 20 of the original 200 South African National Defence Force troops stationed in CAR remained in the country. A company of French troops secured Bangui M'Poko International Airport and France sent 350 soldiers to ensure the security of its citizens, bringing the total number of French troops in CAR to nearly 600. On 25 March 2013, Séléka leader Michel Djotodia, who served after the January agreement as First Deputy Prime Minister for National Defense, declared himself President, becoming the first Muslim to ever hold the office. Djotodia said that there would be a three-year transitional period and that Nicolas Tiangaye would continue to serve as Prime Minister. Djotodia promptly suspended the constitution and dissolved the government, as well as the National Assembly. He then reappointed Tiangaye as Prime Minister on 27 March 2013.
Séléka rule and fall of Djotodia (2013–2014)
In the following two days top military and police officers met with Djotodia and recognized him as President on 28 March 2013, in what was viewed as "a form of surrender", and the overall security situation was beginning to improve. A new government headed by Tiangaye, with 34 members, appointed on 31 March 2013, included nine members of Séléka, along with eight representatives of the parties that had opposed Bozizé, while only one member of the government was associated with Bozizé, and 16 positions were given to representatives of civil society. The former opposition parties declared on 1 April that they would boycott the government to protest its domination by Séléka, arguing that the 16 positions given to representatives of civil society were in fact "handed over to Séléka allies disguised as civil society activists".
On 3 April 2013, African leaders meeting in Chad declared that they did not recognize Djotodia as President; instead, they proposed the formation of an inclusive transitional council and the holding of new elections in 18 months, rather than three years as envisioned by Djotodia. Speaking on 4 April, Information Minister Christophe Gazam Betty said that Djotodia had accepted the proposals of the African leaders; however, he suggested that Djotodia could remain in office if he were elected to head the transitional council. Djotodia accordingly signed a decree on 6 April for the formation of a transitional council that would act as a transitional parliament. The council was tasked with electing an interim president to serve during an 18-month transitional period leading to new elections.
A destroyed mosque during coordinated attack against Muslims, called the "Battle of Bangui".
The transitional council, composed of 105 members, met for the first time on 13 April 2013 and immediately elected Djotodia as interim President; there were no other candidates. A few days later, regional leaders publicly accepted Djotodia's transitional leadership, but, in a symbolic show of disapproval, stated that he would "not be called President of the Republic, but Head of State of the Transition". According to the plans for the transition, Djotodia would not stand as a candidate for President in the election that would conclude the transition.
On 13 September 2013, Djotodia formally disbanded Séléka, which he had lost effective control of once the coalition had taken power. This had little actual effect in stopping abuses by the militia soldiers who were now referred to as Ex-Séléka. Self-defense militias called Anti-balaka previously formed to fight crime on a local level, had organized into militias against abuses by Séléka soldiers. On 5 December 2013, called "A Day That Will Define Central African Republic", the Anti-balaka militias coordinated an attack on Bangui against its Muslim population, killing more than 1,000 civilians, in an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow Djotodia.
Interim President Michel Djotodia and Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye resigned on 10 January 2014 yet the conflict still continued. The National Transitional Council elected the new interim president of the Central African Republic after Alexandre-Ferdinand Nguendet became the Acting Chief of State. Nguendet, being the president of the provisional parliament and viewed as being close to Djotodia, did not run for the election under diplomatic pressure. On 20 January 2014, Catherine Samba-Panza, the mayor of Bangui, was elected as the interim president in the second round voting. Samba-Panza was viewed as having been neutral and away from clan clashes. Her arrival to the presidency was generally accepted by both the Ex-Séléka and the Anti-balaka sides. Following the election, Samba-Panza made a speech in the parliament appealing to the Ex-Séléka and the Anti-balaka for putting down their weapons.
Ex-Séléka and Anti-balaka fighting (2014–2020)
Militia groups called Anti-balaka formed to fight against Séléka and its succeeding rebel militias.
On 27 January, Séléka leaders left Bangui under the escort of Chadian peacekeepers. The aftermath of Djotodia's presidency was said to be without law, a functioning police and courts leading to a wave of violence against Muslims.
The European Union decided to set up its first military operations in six years when foreign ministers approved the sending of up to 1,000 soldiers to the country by the end of February, to be based around Bangui. Estonia promised to send soldiers, while Lithuania, Slovenia, Finland, Belgium, Poland and Sweden were considering sending troops; Germany, Italy and Great Britain announced that they would not send soldiers. The UN Security Council unanimously voted to approve sending European Union troops and to give them a mandate to use force, as well as threatening sanctions against those responsible for the violence. The E.U. had pledged 500 troops to aid African and French troops already in the country. Specifically the resolution allowed for the use of "all necessary measures" to protect civilians. The first batch of 55 EUFOR troops arrived in Bangui, according to the French army, and carried out its first patrol on 9 April with the intention of "maintaining security and training local officers". On 15 February, France announced that it would send an additional 400 troops to the country. French President François Hollande's office called for "increased solidarity" with the CAR and for the United Nations Security Council to accelerate the deployment of peacekeeping troops to the CAR.Ban Ki-moon then also called for the rapid deployment of 3,000 additional international peacekeepers. Because of increasing violence, on 10 April 2014, the UN Security Council transferred MISCA to a UN peacekeeping operation called the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) with 10,000 troops, to be deployed in September that year. MINUSCA drew figurative "red lines" on the roads to keep the peace among rival militias. France called for a vote at the UNSC in April 2014 and expected a unanimous resolution authorising 10,000 troops and 1,800 police to replace the over 5,000 African Union soldiers on 15 September; the motion was then approved. After an incident where civilians were killed that involved Chadian soldiers, Chad announced the withdrawal of its forces from MISCA in April 2014.
As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned of a de facto partition of the country into Muslim and Christian areas as a result of the sectarian fighting, he also called the conflict an "urgent test" for the UN and the region's states.Amnesty International blamed the Anti-balaka militia of causing a "Muslim exodus of historic proportions."Samba-Panza suggested poverty and a failure of governance was the cause of the conflict. Some Muslims of the country were also weary of the French presence in MISCA, with the French accused of not doing enough to stop attacks by Christian militias. One of the cited reasons for the difficulty in stopping attacks by Anti-balaka militias was the mob nature of these attacks.
After three days of talks, a ceasefire was signed on 24 July 2014 in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo. The Séléka representative was General Mohamed Moussa Dhaffane, and the Anti-balaka representative was Patrick Edouard Ngaïssona. The talks were mediated by Congolese presidentDenis Sassou Nguesso and South Sudanese diplomat Albino Aboug. The Séléka delegation had pushed for a formalization of the partition of the Central African Republic with Muslims in the north and Christians in the south but dropped that demand in talks. Many factions on the ground claimed the talks were not representative and fighting continued with Séléka's military leader Joseph Zoundeiko rejected the ceasefire agreement the next day saying it lacked input from his military wing and brought back the demand for partition. Ngaïssona told a general assembly of Anti-balaka fighters and supporters to lay down their arms and that Anti-balaka would be turned into a political party called Central African Party for Unity and Development (PCUD) but he had little control over the loose network of fighters. In May 2015, a national reconciliation conference organized by the transitional government of the Central Africa Republic took place. This was called the Bangui National Forum. The forum resulted in the adoption of a Republican Pact for Peace, National Reconciliation and Reconstruction and the signature of a Disarmament, Demobilisation, Rehabilitation and Repatriation (DDRR) agreement among 9 of 10 armed groups.
Since 2014, there has been little government control outside of the capital. Armed entrepreneurs have carved out personal fiefdoms in which they set up checkpoints, collect illegal taxes, and take in millions of dollars from the illicit coffee, mineral, and timber trades. At least 14 armed groups vied for territory, notably four factions formed by Ex-Séléka leaders who controlled about 60% of the country's territory. In January 2015, talks in Nairobi between Joachim Kokate representing the Anti-balaka and Djotodia and Adam of FPRC led to another ceasefire agreement where they called for amnesty for all perpetrators of abuses and the removal of the current transitional authorities. The transitional government and the international community dismissed the deal as it excluded them from the negotiations and termed the parties "Nairobists". By October 2015, Samba-Panza accused the Nairobists of plotting a coup and dozens of FPRC combatants even walked from the north-east of the country to Sibut, a few kilometres from the capital, threatening the transitional authorities, but were stopped by international forces. With the de facto partition of the country between Ex-Séléka militias in the north and east and Anti-balaka militias in the south and west, hostilities between both sides decreased but sporadic fighting continued. In February 2016, after a peaceful election, the former prime minister Faustin-Archange Touadéra was elected president. In October 2016, France announced that it was ending its peacekeeping mission in the country, Operation Sangaris, and largely withdrew its troops, saying that the operation was a success. By March 2014, the UNSC had authorised a probe into possible genocide, which in turn followed International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda initiating a preliminary investigation into the "extreme brutality" and whether it falls into the court's remit. The UNSC mandate probe would be led by Cameroonian lawyer Bernard Acho Muna, who was the deputy chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, former Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Jorge Castañeda and Mauritanian lawyer Fatimata M'Baye. The ICC began prosecutions and Alfred Yekatom of the Anti-Balaka who was involved in the 'Battle of Bangui' and Patrice Edouard Ngaïssona of the Anti-Balaka were arrested in 2018, although no one from the Ex-Séléka was arrested.
In eastern CAR, tensions erupted in competition between Ex-Séléka militias arising over control of a goldmine in November 2016, where MPC and the FPRC coalition, which incorporated elements of their former enemy, the Anti-balaka, attacked UPC. The violence is often ethnic in nature with the FPRC associated with the Gula and Runga people and the UPC associated with the Fulani. Most of the fighting was in the centrally located Ouaka prefecture, which has the country's second largest city Bambari, because of its strategic location between the Muslim and Christian regions of the country and its wealth. The fight for Bambari in early 2017 displaced 20,000. MINUSCA made a robust deployment to prevent FPRC taking the city and in February 2017, Joseph Zoundeiko, the chief of staff of FPRC who previously led the military wing of Séléka, was killed by MINUSCA after crossing one of the red lines. At the same time, MINUSCA negotiated the removal of Ali Darassa from the city. This led to UPC to find new territory, spreading the fighting from urban to rural areas previously spared. Additionally, the thinly spread MINUSCA relied on Ugandan as well as American special forces to keep the peace in the southeast, as they were part of a campaign to eliminate the Lord's Resistance Army, but the mission ended in April 2017. By the latter half of 2017, the fighting largely shifted to the southeast where the UPC reorganized and were pursued by the FPRC and Anti-balaka with the level of violence only matched by the early stage of the war. About 15,000 people fled from their homes in an attack in May and six U.N. peacekeepers were killed – the deadliest month for the mission yet. In June 2017, another ceasefire was signed in Rome by the government and 14 armed groups including FPRC, but the next day fighting between an FPRC faction and Anti-balaka militias killed more than 100 people. In October 2017, another ceasefire was signed between the UPC, the FPRC, and Anti-balaka groups, and FPRC announced Ali Darassa as coalition vice-president, but fighting continued afterward. By July 2018 the FPRC was headed by Abdoulaye Hissène and based in the northeastern town of N'Délé. In 2019, the FPRC split into two factions, a Runga group on one side, including Abdoulaye Hissene, and rival fighters from the Gula and Kara on the other side.
In western CAR, another rebel group, with no known links to Séléka or Anti-balaka, called "Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation" (3R) formed in 2015 reportedly by Sidiki Abass, claiming to be protecting Muslim Fulani people from an Anti-balaka militia led by Abbas Rafal. They are accused of displacing 17,000 people in November 2016 and at least 30,000 people in the Ouham-Pendé prefecture in December 2016. In northwestern CAR around Paoua, fighting since December 2017 between "Revolution and Justice" (RJ) and "Movement for the Liberation of the Central African Republic People" (MNLC) displaced around 60,000 people. MNLC, founded in October 2017, was led by Ahamat Bahar, a former member and co-founder of FPRC and MRC, and is allegedly backed by Fulani fighters from Chad. The Christian militant group RJ was formed in 2013, mostly by members of the presidential guard of former president Ange-Félix Patassé, and were composed mainly of ethnic Sara-Kaba. While both groups had previously divided the territory in the Northwest, tensions erupted after the killing of RJ leader, Clément Bélanga, in November 2017.
Beginning around 2017, Russia began to increasingly support the government of Touadéra, whose personal guard became largely Russian as well. Three Russian journalists were killed in 2018 while investigating Russian mercenary groups in CAR. In August 2018, Russia and Sudan helped broker another tentative agreement among armed groups. After talks in Khartoum, an African Union led initiative led to an accord between the government and 14 rebel groups in February 2019 called the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation, the eighth such agreement since the war started in 2012. As part of the accord, Ali Darassa of UPC, Mahamat Al-Khatim of MPC and Sidiki Abass of 3R were given positions as special military advisers to the prime minister's office overseeing special mixed units made of government and rebel soldiers in regions of the country that they already controlled. This did not stop the violence, with 3R killing more than 50 people in several villages in May 2019, leading to MINUSCA to launch a military operation against them. In August 2019, Sidiki Abbas of 3R and Mahamat Al-Khatim of MPC resigned from their government posts. Democratic Front of the Central African People (FDPC) leader Abdoulaye Miskine refused to take his government post and joined a new rebel group formed in June 2019 called "Partie du Rassemblement de la Nation Centrafricaine" (PRNC) to oppose the peace deal, claiming that the deal is a way of rebel leaders to gain money and posts from the government. In September 2019, fighting between two rebel groups that signed the February 2019 deal, FPRC and the mostly Kara "Movement of Central African Liberators for Justice" (MLCJ), which was founded by Abakar Sabon and was not part of the Séléka alliance that overthrew Bozizé, killed at least 24 people and displaced about 24,000.
On 19 December 2020 six rebel groups who together control two-thirds of the country's territory, including 3R led by General Sembé Bobo, FPRC, and UPC, announced they had formed an alliance called the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC), and accused President Touadéra of trying to rig the election and stated their intent to advance to the capital. They seized several towns close to Bangui. The government accused Bozizé of fomenting a coup with the rebels after his candidacy for presidential elections was rejected by the country's highest court, but Bozizé denied this.
On 20 December 2020 Rwanda confirmed it had sent troops and Russia said it had sent 300 military instructors. On 22 December, the CPC, in an offensive led by UPC, had taken the country's fourth largest city, Bambari, according to its mayor, but the UN stated that its peacekeepers had retaken the city the next day. On 28 December, it was announced by the electoral commission that 800 (14%) of polling stations failed to operate during the presidential and legislative elections due to violent attacks from armed rebels.
On January 3, 2021, MINUSCA reported that the rebel coalition partially captured Bangassou, adding that the fighters were allied to former President François Bozizé. It is argued that the arrival of the Rwandans and Russians thwarted the rebels from reaching Bangui and so the rebels adopted a long term strategy of suffocating Bangui by controlling the resources around it, however, on January 13, the CPC attacked the capital but were eventually repelled.
On January 4, the electoral commission declared Touadéra the winner of the presidential election. A state of emergency was declared in January 25, and President Touadéra has been accused of using that opportunity to crack down on opponents and consolidate power. Pro-Touadéra militias known as the "Sharks" and "7th Territorial Infantry Battalion" are alleged to have been involved in disappearances of members of Bozizé's party and former president's Catherine Samba-Panza, as well as challengers of Touadéra in the recent polls, Anicet-Georges Dologuélé and Martin Ziguélé, report being prevented from exiting the country.
Russian mercenaries and government offensives (January 2021-present)
Since January 2021, with the help of Russian mercenaries, the rebels have been on the retreat for the first time in years. On 25 January 2021, CAR forces, backed by Russian PMCs and Rwandan troops, attacked Boyali, killing 44 rebels who were plotting an assault on the capital. Subsequently, CAR forces, supported by the Russian contractors and Rwandan troops, captured a number of strategic towns throughout February 2021, including Bossembele, Bouar, Beloko and Bossangoa. As the rebels were being pushed back, Valery Zakharov urged them to hand over their leaders to the CAR's security forces. During the fighting, the rebel Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC) claimed its fighters killed several Wagner Group PMCs and captured one when they destroyed their truck near Bambari on 10 February.
Vehicle with Russian and Syrian mercenaries from the Wagner Group passes through the town of Bria, April 2021
3R rebels, members of Coalition of Patriots for Change
On March 25, 3R rebel leader Sidiki Abass, whose group is accused of war crimes, had succumbed to his injuries in the northern part of the country. In April 2021, the UPC, then the biggest of the armed rebel groups, withdrew from the CPC and asked to talk with the government which has declined so far. The rebels were seen to be moving away from cities and towards peripheral areas and turning to guerilla tactics instead of open fighting.
By mid-May, the Russians have captured a village about 40 km from Bambari during fighting that left 20 people dead. In addition, at the end of the month, Russian and SyrianPMCs of the Wagner Group attacked a rebel checkpoint at the entrance of a village 28 km from Bria, killing three CPC fighters. Towards the end of July, the CAR military was leaving the frontline against the CPC to the PMCs. The plan was for government troops to occupy the captured positions after they had been secured by the contractors.
It is argued that the focus of the initial disarmament efforts exclusively on the Séléka inadvertently handed the anti-Balaka the upper hand, leading to the forced displacement of Muslim civilians by anti-Balaka in Bangui and western CAR. While comparisons were often posed as the "next Rwanda", others suggested that the Bosnian Genocide's may be more apt as people were moving into religiously cleansed neighbourhoods. Even while Séléka was closing in on the capital, clashes began in Bangui's PK5 neighborhood, where members of ethnic groups with ties to Séléka were attacked, such as the Gula. After the withdrawal of Séléka leaders from Bangui, there was a wave of attacks against Muslims with anti-Muslim pogroms and looting of Muslim neighborhoods, including the lynching of the Muslim former Health Minister Dr. Joseph Kalite by Christian self-defence groups. Accounts state of lynch mobs, including that of uniformed soldiers, stoning or hacking Muslims then dismembering and burning their bodies in the streets. In 2014, Amnesty International reported several massacres committed by the anti-balakas against Muslim civilians, forcing thousands of Muslims to flee the country. Other sources report incidents of Muslims being cannibalized. On 10 April, MISCA troops escorted over 1,000 Muslims fleeing to Chad with a police source saying "not a single Muslim remains in Bossangoa." The Muslim population of Bangui dropped 99% from 138,000 to 900. In 2015, Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said 417 of the country's 436 mosques had been destroyed, and Muslim women were so scared of going out in public they were giving birth in their homes instead of going to the hospital.
Eric Danboy Bagale, head of former president François Bozizé's guard and head of the mostly Christian anti-Balaka militias, was arrested in Paris on 19 September, 2020 for war crimes in relation to revenge killings.
Much of the tension is also over historical antagonism between agriculturalists, who largely comprise Anti-balaka and nomadic groups, who largely comprise Séléka fighters. There was ethnic violence during fighting between the Ex-Séléka militias FPRC and UPC, with the FPRC targeting Fulani people who largely make up the UPC and the UPC targeting the Gula and Runga people, who largely make up FPRC, as being sympathetic to FPRC. In November 2016 fighting in Bria that killed 85 civilians, FPRC was reported targeting Fulani people in house-to-house searches, lootings, abductions and killings.
Within the FPRC, the Gula wing attacked the Runga wing in Ndele in April 2020, with at least 25 people being killed.
It is also reported that in 2019, violence broke out in the northeastern, where the killing of an ethnic Kara man sparked heavy fighting between the mainly Kara MLCJ and largely Runga FPRC.
In 2015, humanitarian aid workers in the CAR were involved in more than 365 security incidents, more than Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia. By 2017, more than two-thirds of all health facilities have been damaged or destroyed. The crimes are often committed by individuals not associated with any armed rebel groups. There have been jail breaks with more than 500 inmates escaping from Nagaragba Central Prison, including fighters of both Christian and Muslim militias. By 2017, only eight of 35 prisons function and few courts operate outside the capital. The international press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders said it was concerned that the rebel attacks were taking their toll on the ability of radio stations to operate in the CAR, with condemnation of the killing of journalist Elisabeth Blanche Olofio, who worked for Radio Bé-Oko which is part of a network of apolitical radio stations known as L'Association des Radios Communautaires de Centrafrique.
December – 600+ killed in "Battle of Bangui", as antibalaka militias unsuccessfully attempt to overthrow Djotodia. Two children were beheaded with a total of 16 children killed in Bangui in late December.
22 January people were killed after gunmen in Bouar attacked a convoy in an attempt to halt Muslim refugees trying to flee the violence.
February – 75 people were killed in the town of Boda, in Lobaye province, according to a local priest. Anti-balaka militants attacked Guen resulting in the deaths of 60 people. As a result, hundreds of Muslim refugees sought shelter at a church in Carnot.
29 March – Chadian peacekeepers not a part of MISCA entered Bangui's PK12 district market and allegedly indiscriminately opened fire resulting in 30 deaths and over 300 injuries.
30 March – A Muslim throws a grenade at a group of Christian mourners resulting in 11 deaths.
May – Séléka rebels kill at least 30 at a Catholic church compound.
23 June – Anti-balaka forces killed 18 at Bambari. Several Séléka then killed 10 anti-balaka.
8 July – 17 people were killed when Séléka forces attacked a Catholic church in Bambari.
August – 34 people were reported killed by Séléka fighters around Mbrès.
September – At least 42 people were reported killed.
– 25 October people were reported killed in Bambari.
Anti-balaka attacked Bangassou, slaughtering dozens of Muslim civilians as well as 12 UN peacekeepers.
May – 3R massacres more than 50 people in several villages in the northwest.
February – Members of the Popular Front for the Rebirth of Central Africa (FPRC) attacked MINUSCA forces in Birao, leading to 12 FPRC forces being killed.
April – At least 25 people killed in Ndele when the Gula faction of the FPRC attacked the Runga faction.
December -– 3 UN peacekeepers from Burundi were killed in Dekoa
January – One UN peacekeeper killed when CPC launched an attack on Bangui.
In May 2014, it was reported that around 600,000 people in CAR were internally displaced with 160,000 of these in the capital Bangui. By May 2014, 100,000 people had fled to neighbouring Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Chad. As of 2017, there are more than 1.1 million displaced people in a country of about 5 million people, the highest ever recorded in the country, with about half a million refugees outside CAR and about 600,000 internally displaced. Cameroon hosted the most refugees, more than 135,000, about 90% of whom are Fulani, even though they constituted 6% of CAR's population.
In December 2020, after a contested election rebels -known as the Coalition of Patriots for Change or the CPC have seized main roadways and prevented the flow of goods into Bouar. These and other similar efforts have caused an estimated 100,000 to leave their homes. A month later, January 2021, the number had doubled to 200,000, including 92,000 refugees in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and 13,000 in Chad, the Republic of the Congo, and Cameroon.
A Rwandan soldier near a refugee camp full of displaced residents
African Union – Yayi Boni, then-chairman of the African Union, held a press conference in Bangui, stating, "I beg my rebellious brothers, I ask them to cease hostilities, to make peace with President Bozizé and the Central African people ... If you stop fighting, you are helping to consolidate peace in Africa. African people do not deserve all this suffering. The African continent needs peace and not war." Boni went on to call for dialogue between the current government and the rebels. The African Union suspended the Central African Republic from its membership on 25 March 2013.
European Union – On 21 December 2012 the High Representative for Foreign AffairsCatherine Ashton called on the armed rebel groups to "cease all hostilities and to respect the Libreville Comprehensive Peace Agreement." European Commissioner for Humanitarian AidKristalina Georgieva added that she was deeply worried over the situation in the country and that she strongly urged "all armed groups to respect international humanitarian law and the activities of humanitarians". On 1 January Ashton once again expressed concern over the violence and urged all parties involved to "take all necessary measures to end, without delay, all exactions against populations in Bangui neighbourhoods that undermine chances of a peaceful dialogue."
On 10 February 2014, the European Union established a military operation entitled EUFOR RCA, with the aim "to provide temporary support in achieving a safe and secure environment in the Bangui area, with a view to handing over to African partners." The French Major General Philippe Pontiès was appointed as a commander of this force.
United Nations – On 26 December 2012 the U.N. announced it was pulling all non-essential personnel out of the country due to the worsening security situation. In a statement, U.N. Secretary-GeneralBan Ki-moon condemned the rebels' advance and warned that it had the potential to "gravely undermine the peace agreements in place." He also called on the government "to ensure the safety and security of U.N. personnel and its premises." On 31 January 2020, the United Nations Security Council approved an extension of an arms embargo against the Central African Republic until 31 July 2020.
Gabon/Chad/Cameroon/Congo/Equatorial Guinea sent troops in 2013 to make up an African Union Multinational Force for Central Africa (FOMAC) peacekeeping force in CAR.
Brazil – On 25 December 2012, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brazil issued a statement "urging the parties to observe an immediate cessation of hostilities and any acts of violence against the civilian population" and called for "the restoration of institutional legality in the Central African Republic". The Brazilian government stated that it had been in contact with the small number of Brazilian nationals residing in the country.
Estonia – On 9 May 2014, sent 55 troops to join the EU's EUFOR RCA mission.
Georgia – 140 troops joined EU's military mission in the Central African Republic.
France – On 27 December 2012, CAR President Francois Bozizé requested international assistance to help with the rebellion, in particular from France and the United States. French President François Hollande rejected the plea, saying that the 250 French troops stationed at Bangui M'Poko International Airport are there "in no way to intervene in the internal affairs". Separately, a Foreign Ministry statement condemned "the continued hostility by the rebel groups", adding that the only solution to the crisis was dialogue.
South Africa – South Africa had numerous troops in the CAR since 2007. A Special Forces unit protected President Bozizé under Operation Morero and a second group trained FACA under Operation Vimbezela. Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula traveled to Bangui on 31 December 2012 to assess the situation. On 8 January 2013 the South African National Defence Force deployed 200 additional troops to the CAR, half of the force authorized by President Jacob Zuma. On 21 March President Bozizé traveled to Pretoria to meet with Zuma, allegedly to discuss the 72-hour ultimatum that the rebels had given him. The South African troops from the 1 Parachute Battalion suffered 13 killed and 27 wounded while defending against the advancing Séléka. On 24 March 2013 SANDF soldiers began withdrawing to Entebbe air base, with the reported intention to return to the CAR to retake control from Séléka.
United States of America – On 17 December 2012 the State Department's Overseas Security Advisory Council published an emergency message warning US citizens about armed groups active in Mbrès and advising them to avoid travel outside Bangui. US Embassy personnel were prohibited from traveling by road outside the capital. On 24 December the State Department issued another warning. All non-essential personnel were evacuated, and the embassy switched to limited emergency consular services. On 28 December, the United States Embassy in Bangui suspended operations due to the ongoing rebel attacks; with Ambassador Laurence D. Wohlers and his diplomatic staff evacuating the country.
Serbia – In accordance with Security Council's Resolution 2149, Government of Serbia approved engagement of Serbian Armed Forces. On 20 September 2014 two military observers and two staff officers are deployed. Later, on 11 December 2014, 68 more personnel have been deployed in this mission. On 15 December 2016, Serbia deployed team for emergency medical assistance and level 1 medical team, as part of the EUTM RCA (European Union Training Mission).
^Central African Republic: Death Toll Rises in Battles in Central African Republic. Archived 16 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine
"It is believed to be the single deadliest day of violence confirmed in the northwest since the conflict began, with 115 Christians and 38 Muslims killed in the fighting, Mudge said."
Archived 24 September 2015 at the Wayback Machine