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List of heads of state of the Central African Republic

President of the
Central African Republic
Catherine Samba-Panza

since 23 January 2014
Term length 6 years
Inaugural holder David Dacko
Formation 12 December 1960
21 September 1979 (title reestablished)
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
the Central African Republic

This is a complete list of the heads of state of the Central African Republic and Central African Empire. There have been seven heads of state in the history of the Central African Republic and Central African Empire since independence was obtained from the French on 13 August 1960. This list includes not only those persons who were sworn into office as President of Central African Republic but also those who served as de facto heads of state.

Jean-Bédel Bokassa served as a de facto head of state, while David Dacko (who served as de facto head of state from 1979–1981), André Kolingba, Ange-Félix Patassé, and François Bozizé were elected into office at some point during their tenure. To date, Kolingba is the only former head of state of Central African Republic to voluntarily step down from the office through a democratic process.


  • History of the position 1
  • Political affiliations 2
  • Heads of state 3
  • Footnotes 4
  • Latest election 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

History of the position

Dacko took control of the country in 1959 after a brief internal struggle for power with Abel Goumba. After independence, Dacko served as President of the Provisional Government and later President until being deposed in a coup d'état on New Year's Day, 1966 by one of his ministers, Bokassa. He ruled for 10 years before replacing the government with a monarchy, the Central African Empire.

Bokassa ruled for nearly three more years before being deposed in a French-orchestrated coup, which installed Dacko as president of the renewed Central African Republic. Two years into his single-party rule, he was overthrown in a bloodless coup by his armed forces chief of staff, Kolingba. Five years into his military rule, Kolingba established himself as the President and Head of State of the Central African Republic.

Under pressure to democratize the government, he formed a political party and held a referendum, in which he was elected to a six-year term in office as president. He was defeated in the next presidential election in 1993 by Patassé. Patassé served in office for almost 10 years before being overthrown in a coup by his armed forces chief of staff, Bozizé.

Bozizé served as the President of the Central African Republic until he was overthrown on 24 March 2013 by the Séléka rebel coalition in the 2012–13 conflict and was succeeded by rebel leader Michel Djotodia, who in turn stepped down on 10 January 2014 due to the continued conflict.

Political affiliations

For heads of state with multiple affiliations, the political party listed first is the party the person was affiliated with at the beginning of his tenure.

Heads of state

Central African Republic
French: République centrafricaine, Sango: Ködörösêse tî Bêafrîka
Head of state
Portrait Entered office Left office Political affiliations Notes
David Dacko
President of the Provisional Government
14 August 1960[1] 12 December 1960[A] MESAN Dacko served as president of the government from 1 May 1959[2] until the country declared its independence on 13 August 1960.[3]
David Dacko
12 December 1960 1 January 1966[4] MESAN
Jean-Bédel Bokassa
1 January 1966[B] 4 December 1976 Military Bokassa changed his name to Salah Eddine Ahmed Bokassa after converting to Islam on 20 October 1976.[5]
Central African Empire
French: Empire centrafricain
Bokassa I
4 December 1976[D] 21 September 1979[6] MESAN Bokassa spent approximately US$20 million—one third of the country's annual budget—on his coronation ceremony on 4 December 1977.[7]
Central African Republic
French: République centrafricaine, Sango: Ködörösêse tî Bêafrîka
David Dacko
21 September 1979[E] 1 September 1981[8] MESAN This was Dacko's second time as president of the Central African Republic. In February 1980, Dacko established the Central African Democratic Union (UDC) as the country's only political party.[9]
André Kolingba
Chairman of the Military Committee of National Recovery
1 September 1981[F] 21 September 1985[G] Military Ange-Félix Patassé, with the assistance of François Bozizé, launched an unsuccessful coup d'état against the Kolingba government on 3 March 1982.[10]
André Kolingba
President and Head of State
21 September 1985 21 November 1986 Military Kolingba established the Central African Democratic Rally (RDC) as the country's only party in May 1986.[11]
André Kolingba
21 November 1986[H] 22 October 1993 RDC  
Ange-Félix Patassé
22 October 1993[I][12] 15 March 2003 MLPC Bozizé unsuccessfully executed a coup d'état against Patassé on 28 May 2001.[13]
François Bozizé
15 March 2003[J][14] 24 March 2013 Military Bozizé appointed Abel Goumba as Prime Minister shortly after seizing power. Goumba had served as acting Prime Minister in 1959, before being overthrown by Dacko.[15]
Michel Djotodia
Head of State of the Transition
24 March 2013[K] 18 August 2013 Military Djotodia was the leader of the Séléka rebel coalition in the 2012–13 conflict.
Michel Djotodia
18 August 2013 10 January 2014[L]
Alexandre-Ferdinand Nguendet
Acting Head of State of the Transition
10 January 2014 23 January 2014 RPR Nguendet succeeded Djotodia after his resignation due to the current conflict.
Catherine Samba-Panza
Head of State of the Transition
23 January 2014 Incumbent Nonpartisan Samba-Panza became the first female head of state of the Central African Republic.


  • A Dacko became the official President of the Central African Republic after defeating Abel Goumba in an internal power struggle. Dacko had support from the French government.
  • B Bokassa seized power by staging a coup d'état from 31 December 1965 until 1 January 1966. Bokassa forced Dacko to officially resign from the presidency at 03:20 WAT (02:20 UTC) on 1 January.[4]
  • C Bokassa staged a military coup against the Dacko government on 31 December 1965 – 1 January 1966. After becoming president, Bokassa took control of MESAN and imposed single-party rule under MESAN.
  • D Bokassa, then-President for Life of the Central African Republic, instituted a new constitution at the session of the MESAN congress and declared the republic a monarchy, the Central African Empire (CAE). Bokassa became the emperor of the CAE as "Bokassa I".[5]
  • E By 1979, French support for Bokassa had all but eroded after the government's brutal suppression of rioting in Bangui and massacre of schoolchildren who had protested against wearing the expensive, government-required school uniforms. Dacko, who was Bokassa's personal adviser at the time, managed to leave for Paris where the French convinced him to cooperate in a coup to remove Bokassa from power and restore him to the presidency. The French successfully executed Operation Barracuda on 20–21 September 1979 and installed Dacko as president.[16][17]
  • F General Kolingba (who was also the armed forces chief of staff) overthrew Dacko from the presidency in a bloodless coup.[11]
  • G On 21 September 1985, Kolingba dissolved the Military Committee for National Recovery,[18] and created the positions of Head of State and President.[19]
  • H A constitution was adopted by a referendum on 21 November 1986 and Kolingba was elected to a six-year term in office.[6][11]
  • I The country held a multiparty presidential election on 22 August and 19 September 1993. Patassé was the candidate from the Movement for the Liberation of the Central African People party and ran on the platform that he would pay the previously withheld salaries to soldiers and civil servants.[20] Patassé defeated Dacko, Kolingba, Bozizé and Abel Goumba to win the election.[21]
  • J Bozizé's second coup attempt was successful; he seized power in Bangui on 15 March 2003.[22]
  • K Djotodia ousted Bozizé in the 2012–13 conflict; he seized power in Bangui on 24 March 2013.[23][24]
  • L Under pressure from other central African heads of state gathered for a crisis summit on the situation in CAR, Djotodia resigned in N'Djamena, Chad on 10 January 2014.[25]

Latest election

 Summary of the 23 January 2011 Central African Republic presidential election results
Candidates – Parties Votes %
François BozizéNational Convergence "Kwa Na Kwa" 607,184 66.08
Ange-Félix Patasséindependent 184,716 20.10
Martin ZiguéléMovement for the Liberation of the Central African People 59,370 6.46
Emile Gros Raymond NakomboCentral African Democratic Rally 42,591 4.64
Jean-Jacques DémafouthNew Alliance for Progress/People's Army for the Restoration of Democracy 24,980 2.72
Total (turnout 54.01%) 919,841 100.00
Invalid votes 66,189 6.71
Total votes 986,030
Registered voters 1,825,735
Source: La Voix

See also


  •  .
  • Kalck, Pierre (2005), Historical Dictionary of the Central African Republic (3rd English ed.), Lanham, Maryland: The Scarecrow Press,  .
  • Marsden, Hilary, ed. (1988),  .
  • Titley, Brian (1997), Dark Age: The Political Odyssey of Emperor Bokassa, Montreal:  .
  1. ^ Kalck 2005, p. xxxii
  2. ^ Kalck 2005, p. 198
  3. ^ Kalck 2005, p. xxxi
  4. ^ a b Titley 1997, p. 28
  5. ^ a b Kalck 2005, p. xxxiv
  6. ^ a b Kalck 2005, p. 199
  7. ^ Carlson, Peter (19 May 2007), "His Diplomatic Coup: Getting Them on the Record",  
  8. ^ Kalck 2005, p. xxxix
  9. ^ Kalck 2005, p. 54
  10. ^ Kalck 2005, p. 155
  11. ^ a b c Kalck 2005, p. 113
  12. ^ The World Factbook 2002,  
  13. ^ "Situation "confused" after apparent coup attempt",  
  14. ^ Kalck 2005, p. lxxiii
  15. ^ "Bozize appoints prime minister",  
  16. ^ Titley 1997, p. 127
  17. ^ Kalck 2005, p. lxix
  18. ^ Marsden 1988, p. 810
  19. ^ Kalck 2005, p. 48
  20. ^ Appiah & Gates 1999, p. 399
  21. ^ Kalck 2005, p. xlviii
  22. ^ "Rebel leader seizes power, suspends constitution",  
  23. ^ "Centrafrique: Michel Djotodia déclare être le nouveau président de la république centrafricaine" (in Français). Radio France International. 24 March 2013. Retrieved 24 March 2013. 
  24. ^ Madjiasra Nako; Bate Felix (18 April 2013). "Regional leaders recognise C.African Republic rebel chief".  
  25. ^ "CAR interim President Michel Djotodia resigns".  

External links

  • Elections in the Central African Republic
  • BBC News Timeline: Central African Republic
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