Politics in the Central African Republic formally take place in a framework of a semi presidential republic. In this system, the President is the head of state, with a Prime Minister as head of government. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament.
Changes in government have occurred in recent years by three methods: violence, negotiations, and elections. A new constitution was approved by voters in a referendum held on 5 December 2004. The government was rated ‘Partly Free’ from 1991 to 2001 and from 2004 to 2013.
The president is elected by popular vote for a six-year term, and the prime minister is appointed by the president. The president also appoints and presides over the Council of Ministers, which initiates laws and oversees government operations.
As of June 2014 the Central African Republic was governed by an interim government under Catherine Samba-Panza, Interim President; and André Nzapayeké, Interim Prime Minister.
The National Assembly (Assemblée Nationale) has 105 members, elected for a five-year term using the two-round (or Run-off) system.
Like many other former French colonies, the Central African Republic’s legal system is based on French law. The Supreme Court, or Cour Supreme, is made up of judges appointed by the president. There is also a Constitutional Court, and its judges are also appointed by the president.
The Central African Republic is heavily dependent upon foreign aid and numerous NGOs provide services that the government does not provide.
In 2006, due to ongoing violence, over 50,000 people in the country’s northwest were at risk of starvation but this was averted due to assistance from the United Nations.
On 8 January 2008, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon declared that the Central African Republic was eligible to receive assistance from the Peacebuilding Fund. Three priority areas were identified: first, the reform of the security sector; second, the promotion of good governance and the rule of law; and third, the revitalization of communities affected by conflicts.
On 12 June 2008, the Central African Republic requested assistance from the UN Peacebuilding Commission, which was set up in 2005 to help countries emerging from conflict avoid devolving back into war or chaos.
In response to concerns of a potential genocide, a peacekeeping force – the International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA) – was authorised in December 2013. This African Union force of 6,000 personnel was accompanied by the French Operation Sangaris.