President Bozize was toppled by fighters of the Séléka rebellion – a coalition of five rebel groups - that seized the capital Bangui on 24 March. Rebel leader Michel Djotodia declared himself president, suspending the constitution and parliament, yet promising a three-year period under a power-sharing government. Bangui was taken rather swiftly due to a traditionally weak national army and declining French and Chadian (military) support. Bozize, who himself came to power in a 2003 coup, was accused by Séléka of having failed to honour the January 2013 Libreville peace deal that was closed after a violent rebel offensive had overrun the country’s hinterland and managed to reach the outskirts of Bangui in December 2012. The Libreville Accord comprised a power-sharing deal that created a government drawn from the civil opposition, Séléka members and Bozize supporters, with opposition representative Tiangaye as prime minister - currently ordered by the international community to be kept in place.

Impact on country risk

Since its independence, the poverty-stricken country has been plagued by rebel incursions and coups amid a political tradition of repression and nepotism. Despite its vast natural riches, the landlocked country remains one of the least developed in the world. The international/regional community called for a quick restoration of public order and the implementation of the Libreville Accord. So far, there have been no strong unified calls for Séléka to surrender, and despite the continent’s interest in creating strong precedents, only the African Union suspended CAR’s membership and imposed sanctions on rebel leaders. The country nevertheless risks getting slapped with regional economic sanctions like the closure of access roads or the denouncement of its membership to the CFA franc single currency bloc, which would disrupt the associated transfer risk mitigation. Yet sanctions only seem likely if the Libreville agreement is completely abandoned or if Séléka is unable to keep Bangui and the country’s ethnic/religious rifts in check. However, the Séléka regime’s main challenge lies in evading internal clashes as it is struggling to keep together and control its rebel fractions, which could become the herald of a civil war. When the initial rebellion was launched in December 2012, ONDD downgraded CAR’s war risk and short-term political risk to the second-worst risk category (6/7). Short-term cover might be entirely excluded in case of disrupting economic sanctions or civil war.

Analyst: Louise Van Cauwenbergh, l.vancauwenbergh@credendogroup.com