Timeline: Seleka alliance – what is it? and what were the events that lead to its taking of Bangui?

About the author(s):

Katharine Fortin is an Associate Professor at Utrecht University where she teaches IHL and IHRL. Before joining Utrecht University, she worked at the ICTY, ICC and Norton Rose Fulbright. She is the author of The Accountability of Armed Groups under Human Rights Law (Oxford University Press, 2017) which won the 2018 Lieber Prize. She has written widely about the framework of law that applies to armed groups in non-international armed conflicts and is one of the editors of the Armed Groups and International Law blog.

The Seleka (meaning “alliance” in the national language Sango) alliance is made up of four rebel groups all known by their French acronyms – UFDR (Union des Forces Démocratiques pour le Rassemblement), FDPC (Front Démocratique du People Centrafricain) and CPSK (Convention Patriotique pour le Salut Wa Kodro) and a faction of CPJP (Convention des Patriotes pour la Justice et la Paix). Historical profiles of the UFDR, FDPC and the CPJP can be found here. Very little information can be found on the CPSK which is led by Dhaffane Mohamed Moussa, a former member of the CPJP.

The Seleka alliance which has been described variously as ‘shaky’ and a ‘marriage of convenience’ first appeared in December 2012. Some of the rebel groups that make up the alliance signed a peace agreement with the government in 2007. In December 2012, the Seleka rebel alliance reported that their motivation for taking up arms was that the terms of the earlier peace agreement had not been met. In particular, they complained that the government had not paid rebel soldiers the money that had been promised to them for laying down their weapons and had not freed political prisoners. For an outline of the Seleka alliance and the fighting in the Central African Republic, see here.

For a timeline of the events leading up to yesterday’s capture of Bangui by the Seleka alliance, see below.

Time line (most recent events first):

25th March 2013: Seleka coup-leaders pledge power-sharing government.

24th March 2013: Seleka alliance rebels capture Central African Republic capital, Bangui, the president flees and Michel Djotodia (previously member of the UFDR, leader of the Seleka alliance and Defence Minister in the short-lived national unity government) is named the new president.

23rd March 2013: Seleka alliance rebels are reported to have entered Bangui.

22nd March 2013: Central African Republic is reported to have halted rebel advance on the capital.

18th March 2013: Seleka rebels announce that they have detained five government ministers of the government at the same time as issuing an 72 hour ultimatum to the government. Their principal demands continue to relate to the release the political prisoners and the departure of about 400 South African troops who were sent to the CAR to stop the Seleka alliance seizing Bangui.

12 March 2013: Seleka rebels are reported to have taken town of Bangassou, more than 600km from the capital and close to the DRC border. The rebels say they are demanding the release of political prisoners and the withdrawal of South African troops which were deployed at the end of 2012 to prevent a rebel advance on Bangui.

12th February 2013: UNHCR reports that it has found looted and empty villages in rebel-held territory in the CAR and that villagers have been subjected to violence and intimidation by armed groups in search of fuel, money and food. It is reported that UN offices in Bambari, including those of UNHCR and international non-governmental organizations, are being and ransacked and that humanitarian relief items are among the stolen items.

3rd February 2013: A national unity government is announced as part of a power-sharing agreement with the Seleka rebels. For analysis of this national unity government, see here.

30th January 2013: the Seleka rebels accuse president Bozize of not keeping to his promises in the recent peace deal. Specifically they accused him of not being willing to hand over the position of defence minister to a member of the Seleka alliance.

24th January 2013: United Nations extends the mandate of the peacebuilding office in CAR until 31st January 2014

14th January 2013: The Seleka rebel alliance in CAR agrees to a ceasefire on the following conditions:

  • A coalition government will be formed and the post of prime minister will be given to a member of the Seleka alliance
  • political prisoners taken by the government during the uprising will be released
  • soldiers from South Africa and Angola who were sent to bolster the tottering government will be released.

7th January 2013: Talks commence in Gabon between government of CAR and the Seleka alliance.

2nd January 2013: the Seleka alliance halts just outside Bangui and declares its willingness to enter into peacetalks wtih the government. For analysis of events in late December 2012 by the International Crisis Group, see here.

20th December 2012: the Seleka rebel alliance announced that the advance of its troops had been unilaterally halted after Chadian authorities pledged not to attack rebel positions. In the same statement, the alliance said it was open to peace talks but would remain in the territory it has secured.

18th December 2012: Chadian soldiers enter CAR to join government soldiers in halting rebel advance.

17th December 2012: the Seleka alliance announces that it intends to topple the government unless its demands are met that the government amongst other things pay the rebel soldiers money promised to them in 2007 to lay down their weapons and free political prisoners

10th December 2012: the first attacks are launched by Seleka alliance against several cities in the north of the CAR. From the north east of the country, the rebels rapidly capture the diamond-producing city of Bria and the towns of Batangafo, Kabo, Ippy, Kaga Bandoro, Bambari and Sibut.

2010: International Crisis group warns that the failure of President François Bozizé and his close circle to follow through with many of the concessions agreed on during the Inclusive Political Dialogue in 2008 risks exacerbating the many conflicts in the CAR and stalling national reconciliation.

2003: former General Bozize seizes power from President Patassé. For an account of CAR’s President Bozize’s journey to power, see International Crisis Report here.

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3 thoughts on “Timeline: Seleka alliance – what is it? and what were the events that lead to its taking of Bangui?”

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