Inside Story

Central African Republic: Back to square one?

As interim President Djotodia resigns, we ask how the resulting power vacuum will impact the conflict-ridden nation.

Last updated: 11 Jan 2014 12:53
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There has been a major development in the crisis in the Central African Republic: Interim President Michel Djotodia has resigned, leaving the state in the hands of a transitional government and facing an uncertain future.

He made the announcement during a regional summit in Chad that was discussing how to proceed. Djotodia had been under pressure to quit after hundreds of people died in sectarian violence in recent weeks.

Chad's President Idriss Deby stressed the need for a concerted international effort to find a solution.

"During our work here we will try to research every avenue and means which would allow our sister country Central African Republic to regain its stability. It's for this reason that we have the duty; I would say the obligation, to find a solution to the Central African crisis. It's for that reason that we will need the frank and sincere collaboration of the three Central African leaders we have invited to this summit. Of course, any solution to the Central African problem can only be provided by Central Africans themselves, even if the particular situation in which CAR finds itself requires international and regional support," he said.

I think the population in Bangui is between hope and fear. the population is joyful that Michel Djotodia has resigned because he was a symbol of the violence in the capital city, but at the same time they fear the reaction of the Seleka fighters.

Thierry Vircoulon, International Crisis Group

After months of fighting between Seleka rebels and troops loyal to then-President Francois Bozize, Michel Djotodia declared himself leader on March 24, 2013. On April 13, a regional summit in Chad recognised Djotodia as interim leader.

But through the summer, the violence did not stop and by November, the predominately Muslim Seleka fighters were battling mainly Christian militias calling themselves anti-Balaka. Hundreds died over the following weeks.

On December 5, the UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution authorising French and African troops to protect civilians.

A day later, French military operations began in the capital Bangui. There are now some 1,600 of them, and an additional 4,000 African Union peacekeepers.

But the crisis is far from over. Precise figures are hard to come by, but the United Nations estimates that thousands of people have been killed in the fighting and it says nearly a million people have been driven from their homes.

Lindis Hurum, an aid worker, described the conditions under which they are trying to help those affected: "This population is living in very dire hygienic conditions, the density of the camp is also impressive, and in these kinds of camps there is a very high risk of epidemic."

Will Djotodia's resignation improve the situation? Who will take Djotodia's place? And is a further international intervention the answer to the crisis in the Central African Republic?

Inside Story presenter Hazem Sika is joined by guests: Thierry Vircoulon, the Central African project director from the International Crisis Group; Lydie Boka, the director of Strategico, a risk analysis group; and Vincent Darracq, an Africa analyst at International SOS and Control Risks.

"I think it is a big relief for most of the population, but the Muslims are likely to feel frustrated because they saw him [Djotodia] really as their guy... It is really important to see whether Seleka, and I think it will be, will be included in the transition government as well as forces loyal to ex-president Bozize because we are back to square one."

Lydie Boka, the director of risk analysis group Strategico


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