Free «Case Study: The Central African Republic – Failed States and Old Empires» UK Essay Paper
Nowadays, the Central African Republic is among the least developed countries of the world with the highest level of corruption, pressing social and economic issues, and a long history of military conflicts and crises. According to the World Bank, the state is ranked the fifth in the list of the most fragile world countries regarding their economic development, social inclusion, and public sector management (Yoo, 2011). According to the Fund for Peace, the CAR is ranked the eighth in the list of the worst functioning countries (Yoo, 2011). Recently, the new president has been elected during mostly fair elections, yet it is to be seen whether the country manages to escape from the vicious circle of military conflicts and corruption it has experienced since having gained independence from France. The uncertainty about the country’s future has been caused by its status of a failed state, which it has perpetually held since the 1960s both due to inability of its leaders to instill the effective management of the country to the benefit of the people and constant interference of the old empires and regional powers into its internal affairs.
Although the CAR is universally considered a former colony of France that gained independence in 1958 and subsequently ratified it through the adoption of the constitution in the early 1960s, the country can hardly be deemed truly independent. For more than five decades, the CAR’s government has significantly depended on various international actors with France remaining the most influential player. The inability of the country to gain true independence is related to the status the CAR had within the French empire before 1958. It was treated as “a cul-de-sac,” a marginal and irrelevant colony divided among several companies heavily exploiting the local population and resources (International Crisis Group, 2007). The overview of the history of political regimes in the country since the 1960s shows that France evidently could not allow its former colony become independent from its influence. Almost all former presidents have been ousted with the help or upon the encouragement of the French (Douglas-Bowers, 2015). For instance, when President Dacko started establishing close ties not only with France but also with other world powers interested in investing in the CAR, in particular, China. He was overthrown by Bokassa, who received support from France and pledged loyalty to the former colonizer (Douglas-Bowers, 2015). Almost the identical scenario was applied to all other prominent political figures and regimes. Such intense concernment of France regarding its former colony can be explained by its extensive interests in virtually all market domains of the country, including recently discovered oil reserves, various minerals, telecom industry, banking, etc. (Douglas-Bowers, 2015). As a result, the CAR has failed to develop a strong and effective governance system, while corruption and militarism have proliferated.
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France is not the only external power that has constantly interfered with internal affairs of the CAR and attempted to dictate its vision of the country’s development. The USA has demonstrated its interest in the republic as well. However, being relatively recent, this interest has not managed to have affected the country’s situation yet. The CAR is relevant for the US regional influence because of its potentially rich oil reserves and the desire of the USA to counteract the China’s control in the region (Douglas-Bowers, 2015). Local powers have interfered with the CAR’s internal affairs as well. Hence, Chad is among the most active regional players meddling with the republic’s governance. The shared oil field that is currently drilled only on the Chad’s site is a vital reason for the country to monitor its neighbor (Douglas-Bowers, 2015). Another reason concerns security as Chad’s rebels hide in the north of the CAR, which is why Chad sponsored Bozize’s power grab in the past to be able to operate in the north of the CAR freely (Douglas-Bowers, 2015). Nowadays, the CAR is a playing field for several world powers who compete for the dominance in the region and the right to explore and extract rich resources in a weak country.
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Nonetheless, these world powers can do little in a war-torn and failed state that the CAR currently represents. The above-mentioned interferences have resulted in the lack of strong governance and stable economy, social division, ethnic conflicts, and proliferation of militias who run unchecked and unpunished all over the country. Former ruling parties and presidents were concerned only of their personal enrichment, which gave rise to systemic corruption, weakening of all state institutions, fall of justice and court systems, control of the army by the rich and powerful, and extreme poverty of the local population. The situation became so dire in the 2000s that the country received a status of not only a failed state, but “a phantom state” (International Crisis Group, 2007). Despite the attention from France and some other states, the CAR has always been of little interest for the international community that has ignored the country’s downfall.
Hence, the past actions of the world relating to the CAR support an idea that the country “matters to the international community only to the extent that its internal problems affect the stability of the region” (Akasaki et al., 2015). Moreover, the international community has obviously failed in the case of the CAR as it did not prevent the civil war that started in 2012 and resulted in thousands of deaths among civilians. The UN peacekeeping operation called MINUSCA launched in 2014 has only partially succeeded in terminating the brutal confrontation between the Seleka and anti-balaka militias and has done nothing in ceasing the violation of human rights in the country (Cinq-Mars, 2015). The main reason this operation as well as the previous two UN operations and a range of French operations aimed at peacekeeping in the CAR failed is their reactive nature and view of the country as “forgotten”, “neglected”, “failed”, and impossible to develop (Cinq-Mars, 2015). However, the local population requests the international community not for humanitarian aid and military support of some warring party, but for the disarmament of all warring parties and the end of war. So far, the international community has failed the CAR in this respect. All previous operations have been concentrated on short-term stabilization of the region, and today there is a significant risk that the same will happen in the nearest future as foreign troops are to withdraw from the CAR by the end of this year. The recent elections have been recognized as fair, and Faustin Archange Touadera is to become the next president of the country (Benn, 2016). His declaration that “Central Africans of all regions, religions, social status and generations, are going to transform” the country is ambitious (Benn, 2016). Nevertheless, it is not known yet whether this declaration can be fulfilled in practice.
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To conclude, it is yet to be seen whether the new government headed by the new president repeats the mistakes of their predecessors and allows the militias retain their arms remaining unpunished for their crimes as it happened through announcing amnesty after the military conflicts and rebellions in the past. It is also to be seen how the newly-elected president plans to fight the systemic corruption and extreme poverty, as well as resolve the issues of the religious and ethnic tensions. As of today, the CAR remains almost a classic example of a failed state, which is a status it has acquired because of the perpetual interference into the country’s internal affairs by the various world and regional powers. However, the country can avoid repeating its history and gain true independence by limiting the foreign influences, devising its development strategy, and consistently solving all its current problems.
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