The Central African situation in five points.
The Central African Republic has an area of 622,000 km2 (which is twice the size of Italy) and a population of just over 5 million inhabitants. It is located in the centre of the continent. The Central African Republic is bordered by Chad, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic Congo and Cameroon. Moreover, the southern region is rich in water, thanks to the presence of Congo Rivers’ tributaries, and is covered by forest that permits the extraction of precious timber, which is the main resource of the country’s wealth. From a religious point of view, half of the population is Christian with a prevalence of Catholics, while the Muslims are just 15% of the overall population.
The country was a French colony until the 1960s and it became independent thanks also to Barthélemy Boganda, who was a Catholic priest that after the Second World War - which was fought by many Central Africans together with France - founded the Movement for the Social Evolution of Black Africa. Subsequently, he claimed the country's emancipation from colonialism. As the first leader of the government of the Central African Republic, Boganda was not able to see the independence process due to a mysterious airplane accident in 1959. From 1962 to 1993, several military regimes followed until the presidential election of Ange-Félix Patassé, who was democratically elected for two terms in 1993 and 1999. In 2003, Patassé was subjected to a coupé d’état by General François Bozizé who was in power until 2013.
3. The Civil War
The civil war started in 2012 when the Séleka rebel group, mainly composed by Muslims and mercenaries from nearby countries, was able to defeat Bozizé’s troops by occupying the northern part of the country. At the beginning of 2013, the rebels were able to conquer the capital city, Bangui, by obligating Bozizé to seek refuge in Cameroon. Séleka’s leader, Michel Djotodia, declared himself as the president, but he was not able to reunite the country, especially because of anti-Balaka militia’s resistance, mainly composed of Christians. These years have been marked by sufferings because the people have been forced to leave their homes due to the incessant violence and raids, and they have also suffered hunger and pandemics.
4. The peace process
Since 2013, the Community of Sant’Egidio, whose first relationship with Central Africa dates back to ‘90s, has been working with political parties, armed groups, representatives of religious communities and civil societies in order to have national reconciliation. The mediation led to the signature of the “Pacté Républicain '' in November 2013 by the President Michel Djotodia, the Prime Minister Nicolas Ntiangaye and the President of the National Transitional Council Alexandre Ferdinand Nguendet . In 2015, once again at Sant’Egidio, the parties reached an important agreement that guaranteed the pacific development of the parliamentary election and the commitment of respecting the results from the principal parties’ ballot boxes.
Pope Francis visited the Central African Republic in November 2015. Bangui Cathedral was the first Holy door that the Pope opened during the Jubilee of Mercy.
In November 2016, the President Touaderà assigned to the Community the mandate of involving all the armed groups in the peace process.
During the meeting among the representatives of the government and the different political-military groups, which has recently taken place in Rome, the Community’s President, Marco Impagliazzo, was invited to report to the UN Security Council on June 12, 2017. That symbolizes a significant step towards the end of the civil war.
The working days ended on June 19, 2017 with the signature of a “Political Agreement for the Peace in Central Africa” , which the parties labelled as “Entente de Sant’Egidio”. It is still in force and it is implemented through the progressive disarmament of the armed groups.