Central African Republic Country Profile – Government/Politics
from the CIA Factbook (Page last updated on October 13, 2020)
Government type: presidential republic
Administrative divisions: 14 prefectures, 2 economic prefectures*, and 1 commune**; Bamingui-Bangoran, Bangui**, Basse-Kotto, Haute-Kotto, Haut-Mbomou, Kemo, Lobaye, Mambere-Kadei, Mbomou, Nana-Grebizi*, Nana-Mambere, Ombella-Mpoko, Ouaka, Ouham, Ouham-Pende, Sangha-Mbaere*, Vakaga.
Independence: 13 August 1960 (from France).
- history: several previous; latest (interim constitution) approved by the Transitional Council 30 August 2015, adopted by referendum 13-14 December 2015, ratified 27 March 2016.
- amendments: proposals require support of the government, two thirds of the National Council of Transition, and assent by the “Mediator of the Central African” crisis; passage requires at least three-fourths majority vote by the National Council membership; non-amendable constitutional provisions include those on the secular and republican form of government, fundamental rights and freedoms, amendment procedures, or changes to the authorities of various high-level executive, parliamentary, and judicial officials.
Legal system: civil law system based on the French model.
- chief of state: President Faustin-Archange TOUADERA (since 30 March 2016).
- head of government: Prime Minister Firmin NGREBADA (since 25 February 2019).
- cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president.
- elections/appointments: under the 2015 constitution, the president is elected by universal direct suffrage for a period of 5 years (eligible for a second term); election last held 30 December 2015 with a runoff 20 February 2016 (next election scheduled to be held in December 2020).
- election results: Faustin-Archange TOUADERA elected president in the second round; percent of vote in first round – Anicet-Georges DOLOGUELE (URCA) 23.7%, Faustin-Archange TOUADERA (independent) 19.1%, Desire KOLINGBA (RDC) 12.%, Martin ZIGUELE (MLPC) 11.4%, other 33.8%; percent of vote in second round – Faustin-Archange TOUADERA 62.7%, Anicet-Georges DOLOGUELE 37.3%.
- note: rebel forces seized the capital in March 2013, forcing former President BOZIZE to flee the country; Interim President Michel DJOTODIA assumed the presidency, reinstated the prime minister, and established a National Transitional Council (CNT) in April 2013; the NTC elected Catherine SAMBA-PANZA interim president in January 2014 to serve until February 2015, when new elections were to be held; her term was extended because instability delayed new elections and the transition did not take place until the end of March 2016.
- description: unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (140 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by absolute majority vote with a second round if needed; members serve 5-year terms).
- elections: last held 30 December 2015 (results annulled), 14 February 2016 – first round and 31 March 2016 – second round (next to be held on 27 December 2020).
- election results: percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – UNDP 16, URCA 11, RDC 8, MLPC 10, KNK 7, other 28, independent 60; composition – men 129, women 11, percent of women 7.9%.
- highest courts: Supreme Court or Cour Supreme (consists of NA judges); Constitutional Court (consists of 9 judges, at least 3 of whom are women).
- judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court judges appointed by the president; Constitutional Court judge appointments – 2 by the president, 1 by the speaker of the National Assembly, 2 elected by their peers, 2 are advocates elected by their peers, and 2 are law professors elected by their peers; judges serve 7-year non-renewable terms.
- subordinate courts: high courts; magistrates’ courts.
From International Crisis Group (ICG)
The Government of CAR and 14 armed groups signed a Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation on 6 February 2019. The agreement makes commitments to integrate the forces of fighting factions into the national army and provide opportunities for the leaders of various factions to join the government, but fighting has continued in the provinces. The agreement does not include provisions on reducing violence within the armed factions, which are the cause of considerable violence.[i]
CAR’s president, Faustin-Archange Touadéra has committed to an “inclusive government” which many have taken to mean incorporating elements of various armed groups.[ii] When the new Prime Minister announced the formation of a new government in March 2019, the armed factions were not significantly represented, causing them to threaten walking out on the agreement. In an effort to salvage peace talks, the African Union (AU) advised the formation of a new government weeks later, giving various groups positions within areas already under their control.
The population has expressed dissatisfaction with the formation of the government, with many believing that too many concessions are being made to armed groups, therefore “rewarding predatory militants” with government positions without any beneficial return.[iii] The National Youth Council protested the inclusion of armed groups in the government, and the government responded by arresting the leader of the council in April, a move that was highly criticized by civil society leaders, which led to his release several days later.[iv]
The International Crisis Group (ICG) has recommended the government and international community establish benchmarks for the demobilization of armed groups that would qualify them for government positions and other benefits. Such benchmarks would include reducing violence, allowing unimpeded humanitarian access, and permitting state officials to work in the provinces without being threatened.
Security Sector Reform
The peace agreement creates Special Mixed Security Units, merging some groups of combatants with Army formations. According to the ICG, this effort has been hampered by different understandings of the group command structure, and the reluctance of some groups to demobilize entirely. The first mixed security units will be trained and deployed in Bouar and Bambari, respectively.[v] Security sector reform and demobilization efforts are being coordinated by multiple stakeholders including the European Union, France, Russian Federation, and the United States.
The peace agreement was brokered by the AU. Neighboring countries are involved in monitoring the implementation of the agreement, including Chad which has been a source of new recruits and resupply for the armed factions.[vi] Sudan is also an important neighbor to CAR, and Russia is playing an increasingly influential role.
Local Peace Committees
The government has supported the establishment of 26 local Peace Committees to support national reconciliation, some of which existed prior to the agreement. Local Peace Committees have brokered agreements contributing to the cessation of hostilities and restoration of trust within local communities (ICG). MINUSCA has also facilitated dialogue between the committees and armed groups, which has resulted in the signing of several local peace agreements. The Secretary General’s June 2019 report highlights several examples:
The Gambo and Pombolo communities in the Mbomou prefecture signed an agreement marking the first meeting between the communities since recurrent reprisal killings between the Unite pour la paix en Centreafrique and anti-balaka associated militias in 2017.
Representatives of Christian and Muslim communities in Castor and Yakite neighborhoods in Bangui’s third district signed a reconciliation agreement, committing themselves to ceasing all hostilities, forbidding the carrying of firearms by civilians and permitting the return of displaced persons.
In Alindao, the Unite pour la paix en Centrafrique and anti-Balaka reached an agreement which included the deployment of national forces to secure the area.
These local agreements, and the inclusion of women and youth in brokering truces between armed factions, have the greatest potential to sustain peace.
Presidential, regional and municipal elections will be held in 2020 and 2021. If planned correctly, the elections could be a confidence building measure with civil society, allowing it to vote members of armed groups in or out of the government.
Government presence outside of the capital city of Bangui is limited. A UN effort to map the presence of civil servants outside of Bangui found that 72% of all government employees worked for the Ministry of Health and Education and that the backlog of salaries to civil servants dated back to 2002.[vii] Thus, it is a priority for the central government to establish new offices outside the capital which can administer services such as local mayoral and gendarmerie offices.
[i] International Crisis Group (ICG), Making the Central African Republic’s Latest Peace Agreement Stick, Africa Report No. 277, 18 June 2019, https://www.crisisgroup.org/africa/central-africa/central-african-republic/277-making-central-african-republics-latest-peace-agreement-stick
[ii] Ibid, ICG, June 2019
[iii] Ibid, ICG, June 2019
[iv] UN Report of the Secretary-General on the Central African Republic, 17 June 2019, https://undocs.org/en/S/2019/498
[v] Ibid, UN Report of the Secretary General, June 2019
[vi] Ibid, ICG, June 2019
[vii] Ibid, UN Report of the Secretary General, June 2019
These products are the results of academic research and intended for general information and awareness only. They include the best information publicly available at the time of publication. Routine efforts are made to update the materials; however, readers are encouraged to check the specific mission sites at https://minusca.unmissions.org/en or https://peacekeeping.un.org/en/mission/minusca.
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