Simply tremendous journalism from Johann Hari in The Independent on the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR). It’s hardly a surprise that elements within the French ‘elite’ are so appalling (there are undoubtedly plenty of similar skeletons in the British Foreign Office’s cupboards: and I make no apologies for the dreadful pun – we are all degraded by this utter waste of life). There are too many “forgotten corners in forgotten countries” fought over for their resources by the indistinguishable civilizers and barbarians. But as Hari says the CAR seems to fall off most maps, even that of the excellent International Crisis Group for example.
I passed through the CAR in 1980 (travelling from southern Sudan to Cameroon) – in the transition period between the Bokassa-Dracko-Kolinga regimes. The road into Bangui from the east was only tarmacked for about 50km – someone had given Bokassa a Mercedes so he need to fix at least one road – although later apparently he realised that he was making himself too easy a target for his enemies so it soon became potholed and worse than the earth roads. Bangui was on edge, with French paratroopers on the streets. It made Cameroon seem like a relaxed place.