9 January 2014

Central African Republic: CAR's Djotodia Could Step Down As Regional Leaders Meet

Photo: Facebook
Interim President Michel Djotodia.

Regional leaders from the Economic Community of Central African States ((ECCAS)) are meeting today in the Chadian capital N'Djamena on the crisis in the Central African Republic.

There are rumors that interim President Michel Djotodia may announce his resignation at the meeting. A spokesman for Djotodia, who seized power in March as head of the Seleka rebels, has denied any such plan.

Lewis Mudge, a researcher in the Africa Division at Human Rights Watch wrote an article this week calling for a transformation of the African Union peacekeeping force in the Central African Republic into a "full-fledged UN mission".

Mudge says he would not be surprised if Djotodia were to step down because there has been a great deal of fatigue with his administration by regional actors and France.

"The rumors that are coming out of Chad are that interim President [[Michel]] Djotodia will announce his resignation. We don't know if that's true or not, but what we do know is that there seems to be a degree of fatigue with Djotodia both by regional actors, notably the Chadians and the president of the Republic of Congo and also by the French," he said.

Mudge says not much is expected to change even if Djotodia resigns, which he notes could create a leadership vacuum and a worrying prospect giving the prevailing situation on the ground in the Central African Republic.

"There are people within the Seleka and within the current administration as well who are certainly powerful, including the head of intelligence and former minister of security and also former Seleka warlord who could certainly fill the spot. But also there has to be the question of how is Francois Bozize, the former president, how he is going to react to this news," Mudge said.

He said it is widely reported that Bozize has been supporting the anti-balaka militias.

Mudge says it is possible but not probable that in the absence of Djotodia the president of the National Transitional Council could take over or mandate Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye to run the country.

"The National Transitional Comission has existed now since May, and Nicolas Tiangaye has been the prime minister for that long as well. Nicolas Tiangaye, a former human rights defender in Bangui has been marginalized by this administration. He's lost a great deal of credibility internally in Bangui. The National Transitional Commission has been a commission on paper only," Mudge said.

Mudge says former colonial power France has recognize that there needs to be a new type of political solution other than the one currently existing in the Central African Republic, and would be happy if Djotodia steps down.

Mudge wrote an article this week calling for a transformation of the African Union peacekeeping force in the Central African Republic into a "full-fledged UN mission".

He says such a force would be better able to protect civilians and create an environment in which humanitarian assistance could be delivered.

"I have seen first-hand how the African Union peacekeeping mission had taken risk; how they've lost their men in protecting civilians. But the fact of the matter is that the African Union peacekeeping mission is at the behest of the donor countries, particularly the European Union. They don't have a fixed budget; they don't have the training and they don't have the materials needed to install peace and a degree of stability in CAR," Mudge said.

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