Freedom in the World
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Central African Republic
Freedom Rating (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Civil Liberties (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Political Rights (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Despite the installation of a consensus government in January 2009, rebel groups continued to clash with government forces during the year, creating thousands of new internally displaced persons and refugees. In October, former president Ange-Felix Patasse returned to the country after six years in exile with the intention of running in the 2010 presidential election.
UNICEF estimated in early 2008 that there are some 197,000 internally displaced persons in the CAR, and that roughly a quarter of the country’s four million citizens have been affected by armed conflict. Despite the country’s abundant natural resources, some 80 percent of the population relies on subsistence agriculture. Decades of conflict and poor governance have led to economic and social collapse. The CAR earned the fourth-worst ranking on the UN Development Programme’s 2009 Human Development Index.
The CAR is not an electoral democracy. Although presidential and parliamentary elections were held in 2005, they were marked by some irregularities and criticized by opposition candidates as unfair. The president, who is limited to two five-year terms, appoints the cabinet and dominates the legislative and judicial branches. Members of the unicameral, 105-seat National Assembly are elected by popular vote for five-year terms. Though the KNK coalition is the country’s leading political force, other parties operate freely, including the MLPC and former coup leader Andre Kolingba’s Central African Democratic Assembly.