Photo by Jay Rembert on Unsplash

The Central African Republic’s “War Criminal” Ex-Presidents Are Coming Home to Roost

Two former CAR Presidents – and enemies – François Bozizé and Michel Djotodia have both returned voluntarily to the country, two weeks apart, to considerable surprise and consternation from all political stripes.

Bozizé, who has eluded an international arrest warrant since 2013, stands accused of crimes against humanity and incitement to genocide by the CAR government. Djotidia, who wrestled power from Bozizé by force in 2013, is being investigated by the International Criminal Court, as well as Special Criminal Court created in 2015 to examine war crimes committed by the Seleka under this watch.

The Seleka is a Muslim Rebel group that launched a coup d’êtat in 2013 to overthrow the government led by Bozizé, who is a politician from the country’s Christian majority community and a former high-ranking army officer under Jean-Bédel Bokassa. Bozizé himself had taken power via a coup in 2003. Bozizé fled the country amid the outbreak of a vicious civil war that has displaced around 5 million people and counting.

With Bozizé gone, Seleka appointed Soviet-trained Djotodia, one of its own leaders from the Muslim-majority northeast of CAR, as President. This lasted only a year, however – Djotidia was also forced in 2014, leaving a trail of destruction behind him.

The second of these two Presidents may have left the country six years ago, but inter-ethnic and religious violence has continued to rage in CAR.

The country is a little more stable than it was in 2014, allowing around a quarter of a million people to return to their homes. The situation remains fragile, however. The current Prime Minister, Faustin-Archange Touadera, who gained power in a democratic election overseen by the UN in 2014, has struggled to reach a peace agreement with the 14 rebel groups all vying for power. Collectively, these control most territory in the CAR.