Update (1/10/14): ECCAS has formally announced the resignation of President Djotodia and Prime Minister Nicolas Tiengaye. CAR’s National Transitional Council (CNT), which has been flown in its entirety to Chad, will now be required to decide on a new leader ahead of elections planned for later this year. The CNT had elected Djotodia last April, following the ouster of President Bozize.
Sources have reported that there is a possibility that Central African Republic’s President Michel Djotodia may agree to step down as part of efforts to end the current crisis in that country. This comes as central African leaders belonging to the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) bloc meet in the capital of Chad, Ndjamena, to discuss the crisis. CAR presidential spokesman Guy-Simplice Kodegue has denied that the summit has anything to do with a possible leadership change. Djotodia has promised to hold elections in the future and to not stand in said elections, but it is unclear who would likely stand in such elections.
Djotodia assumed the presidency in March of last year after his Seleka rebel group ousted former President Francois Bozize. Djotodia subsequently declared the group disbanded, but former Seleka rebels continued to commit acts of violence and criminality across the country, including in the suburbs of the capital Bangui. Tensions between the nominally Muslim ex-Seleka rebels and nominally Christian village militias, broadly referred to as anti-balaka, reached a crisis point this past December. Djotodia has continually blamed inter-communal violence on elements loyal to Bozize and said that any violence committed by elements loyal to him is a natural response to the injustices of the previous administration.
However, the resulting fighting prompted a French intervention, Operation Sangaris, to support African Union peacekeepers. The US also provided support to rapidly reinforce the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA), codenamed Operation Echo Casemate. This operation primarily involved the airlift of a Burundian Army light infantry battalion and its associated equipment to CAR.
Observers warn that forcing Djotodia to give up the presidency would not necessarily fix the problems in the country and the United Nations warned today that inter-communal violence is a “long-term danger.” The UN estimates that thousands have died in the fighting, that almost a million have been driven from their homes, and that over two million are in need of humanitarian assistance.