Colonialism, Coups and Conflict: Understanding Today’s Violence in the Central African Republic

INTERNATIONALIST 360°

By Devon Douglas-Bowers

PART I

The Central African Republic is now awash in media coverage over the ongoing sectarian violence and general upheaval in the country. But while many outlets discuss the volatile situation in the CAR, few analyses have put the violence in a historical context to discuss the way that countries like France, Chad and the United States bear implication as well. The violence in the CAR is unprecedented and worrisome. Historically, however, it is but another unfortunate and bloody chapter in the country’s unstable history. This is the first in a two-part series on that conflict.

A History of Violence

The CAR is a former French colony that gained independence soon after a 1958 French constitutional referendum dissolving France’s African holdings. The first president, Barthélemy Boganda, died in a March 1959 plane crash and power was transferred to David Dacko who oversaw the CAR’s declaration of independence…

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