Cannibal Emperor, amateur of one-party democracy, military dictator and other presidents of the Central African Republic
13 August 1960 The Central African Republic gained independence from France, and its people the constitutional right to elect a president. The Russian Planet talks about how the notion of Central Asian rulers about democracy has evolved over the past half century.
Jean Bedel Bokassa
Jean Bedel Bokassa was a cousin of the first CAR President David Daco, who in 1964, he was appointed Chief of the General Staff. On the night of January 1, 1966, Bokassa organized a state turn and imprisoned Dako. He proclaimed himself president, minister of defense, minister of information and head of the only political party, the Movement for the Social Evolution of Black Africa (CARVA) allowed in the CAR, into which the entire adult population of the country was obliged to enter. On the fourth day of the reign of Bokassa abolished the constitution.
In 1970, the president of the CAR made an official visit to the Soviet Union, where he spoke with Secretary General Leonid Brezhnev and other representatives of the top leadership of the USSR. At first, Bokassa was skeptical about the habit of the secretary general and his entourage to kiss, but then he even liked it: he could "feel the taste of the skin." He enthusiastically told his guard that "Russian President Brezhnev is very well-fed." The fact is that Bokassa loved human meat and practically could not live without him, so before long trips his personal chef prepared special canned food. As a rule, on the dinner table of Bokassa were his political enemies.
In 1972, he declared himself president for life, and four years later renamed his country into the Central African Empire. He proclaimed himself emperor Bokassa I. More than $ 1977 million was spent on the coronation ceremony, which took place in December 20, which was about half of the country's annual budget.
In the autumn of 1976, after meeting with the chairman of the Libyan Liberation Movement Council, Muammar Gaddafi, Bokassa decided to convert to Islam and changed his name to Salah al-ed Ahmed. He stayed a Muslim for only three months and returned back to Catholicism, however 55 children from 17 wives say that the President of the CAR was not a very zealous Christian.
Several attempts to remove Bokassa from 1969 to 1976 were unsuccessful. When on one of the nights of September in 1979, the emperor personally killed 130 children who were in prison for participating in a demonstration and refused to wear a uniform with his portrait, the people's patience snapped. As soon as Bokassa left for Libya, a bloodless coup took place in the CARs, in which French paratroopers took part. The dictator had to go into exile in France, where he lived in a castle and did not deny himself anything. In 1980, he was sentenced to death in his homeland, and when he was full of hope after six years, he returned to the Central African Republic, he was immediately arrested. In 1988, the death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, and later by 20 years in prison. But Bokassa did not even serve ten: in 1993, he was released under a general amnesty and three years later died from a heart attack.
After the overthrow of Bokassa, the first head of the independent Central African Republic, David Daco, returned to the presidency of the CAR.
Even in the first period of his rule, Daco traveled around Europe, trying to get a loan for the "economic development of the country." In his absence, an antigovernment uprising broke out on the border with Zaire, which could not be crushed for several months. The money received from Europeans did not affect the growth of the CAR economy, but the president himself, members of the government and ministers became wealthy. In the 1962 year, Daco established a one-party system and banned all parties except for the ACHP.
Dako spent most of the time after his overthrow under house arrest, but by the year of 1979 he was released and even became an adviser to the emperor. When, as a result of the operation of the French air force, the monarchy was abolished and the CAR became a republic again, Daco approved a new constitution proclaiming a multi-party system. In March 1981, he even managed to win the presidential election, but immediately after the inauguration, the opposition parties were dissolved, and the CAR again became virtually one-party. Dako promised that one day democracy would come to the republic, but it would happen in 120 years.
Dako's political career ended in September 1981. The next coup d'état was again headed by the chief of staff appointed by him, this time by General Andre Kolingba.
Having come to power, Andre Kolingba established the Military Committee of National Transformation, which was supposed to govern the country, but in fact behaved like a military dictator. In 1986, a new constitution was adopted by referendum, and Kolingba became president for a six-year term. Shortly afterwards, the head of the Central African Republic announced the creation of a new political force - the Central African Democratic Party.
From the moment of the military coup and the fall of the Berlin Wall, Kolingba enjoyed the full support of France, and the head of his personal guard was French Colonel Jean-Claude Mansion for a long time. In 1992, Kolingby’s presidential powers expired, and multi-party elections were held in the CARs under UN supervision. The current president received only 10% of votes, and Kolingba decided to cancel the results of these elections. He managed to delay the re-election until February 1993. Kolingba lost them again and was forced to leave his post under pressure from the international community. In his frustrated feelings before leaving, he announced an amnesty for all prisoners, as a result of which he came to the will of Bokassa.
In 2001, Kolingba tried to overthrow the candidate who bypassed him, was sentenced to death, and sought asylum in Uganda.
The election victory was won by a former member of the Bokassa cabinet, Ange-Felix Patassé, with 52% of votes. His main opponent, Abel Gumba, received 45%, and his supporters accused France of aiding Patassé and rigging the elections. The first president-elect tried to keep within the law, but he was strongly disliked by the opposition and the independent press. In 1995, Western countries were tired of investing in the CAR economy, because funds were still being plundered by the top authorities, and international financial organizations began to curtail the amount of cash infusions. The insistent demands of the World Bank to reduce the costs of the administrative apparatus of Patassa met with indignation.
The financial problems of the CARs led to the fact that soldiers and officials in the mid-nineties were often left without pay. In the spring of 1996, a coalition of opposition parties held an anti-government rally, followed by several riots in government forces. France took pity on her former colony and assisted in the payment of wages, and the order in the republic was maintained by French peacekeepers. However, this did not help for a long time: conflicts between the opposition and the military often turned into armed clashes. At the beginning of 1997, the government had to go on a truce and re-form the government to provide the opposition with part of the ministerial portfolios.
In 2001, the next Chief of the General Staff, François Bozize, who won the 1993% of votes in the presidential election of 1,5, tried to seize power in the traditional way for the CARs, but failed. An ex-general who had been dismissed had to flee with the rebels to Chad. Bozize made a second attempt to overthrow Patassa - in October 2002, he organized an armed attack on the capital of CAR, Bangui. Libyan soldiers came to help Patassa, but when the people of Boziza were driven out of the city, they themselves began to plunder the capital. Patassé was accused of abuse of power and treason.
In March 2003, Bozize finally managed to complete what he had begun, and having lost the support of Patassé, who was on a visit to Niger at that time, went into exile in Togo.
Bosoze first of all abrogated the constitution and in December 2004 of the year held a referendum, after which a new one was adopted. Among the few changes that appeared in it was the phrase "usurping power by means of a coup or by other means is a crime against the Central African people." In the first round of the presidential election, held on March 13 2005, 11 candidates participated. In the second round, Boziz won, gaining 64,6% of votes.
Among the strange deeds of Bozize is the posthumous excuse in December 2010 of General Bokassa. In honor of the 50 anniversary of the independence of the Central African Republic, the President of the Republic withdrew charges of cannibalism from the late emperor. This concern was probably due to the fact that Bozize made his military career during his reign, and it was Bokassa who made him a general. The highest military rank 32-year-old captain then deserved the fact that he hit the French officer-adviser, who showed disrespect for the emperor. Under the following presidents, Bozizé held various government posts until Kolingba suspected him of an attempted coup d'état and put him in prison where he was tortured.
In the 2011 year, the next presidential elections were held, to which even Patassa was allowed, and Bozize won again with 64,4% of votes. A year later, the president of the CAR again made the whole world talk about himself. In November, 2012, his son, captain of the Republican army, Kevin Bozize, refused to pay a bill for $ 15 thousand in a five-star hotel, where he rested with friends. For the CARs, this situation was no longer something out of the ordinary, but when the President found out about Kevin’s deed, he sent his son to prison and demanded immediate repayment of the debt from all defaulters.
Since 2012, the pro-Islamic group "Séléka" operated in the CAR. In March 2013, the Muslim rebels led by their leader Michel Jotodiya captured Bangui and forced Boise to flee to the Congo. Jotodia proclaimed himself president and disbanded the Séléka, but instead of surrendering weapon, her fighters went to terrorize Christians. The Christians gathered anti-balaca self-defense detachments and began to attack the Muslim population themselves. As a result of the bloody clashes in Bangui in December 2013, about 600 people were killed on both sides, several peacekeepers were killed, and a quarter of the population of the capital had to leave their homes.
In January, JNTOX resigned under pressure from the leaders of other Central African states under pressure from other Central African states. Now the republic is temporarily headed by Catherine Samba-Panza, who must bring order to the country and prepare the holding of elections.
"Russian Planet" continues to monitor developments.