David Dacko (24 March 1930 - 20 November 2003) was a Central African politician who served as President of the Central African Republic on two occasions, first from 1960-1966 and secondly from 1979-1981. Following his removal in a second coup d'etat in 1981, he remained a prominent opposition figure in the country for the remainder of his life. His numerous loyal supporters made him a major political figure in the country for over 50 years.
Early Life Edit
David Dacko was born in a small village in the French colony of Ubangi-Shari into the M'Baka ethnic group. Shortly after he was born, his family moved to the town of Boda where his father worked in a store belonging to a European coffee planter. He began his primary education in Mbaiki, before moving to Bambari to continue his education. He eventually finished studying for a teaching career and became headmaster of a large school in the colony's capital of Bangui. After participating in an experimental education program promoted by the French government, Dacko became principal of Kouanga College in 1955. He soon began to support independence leader and fellow M'Baka Barthelemy Boganda. Dacko was elected to the seat of Ombella-M'Poko in the colony's assembly in 1957. Later that year, Boganda, now as head of the colony's administration, appointed Dacko as Minister of Agriculture from 1957 - 1958. Dacko was then reappointed as Minister of the Interior from 1958 - 1959, during which time Central Africa was slowly given independence from France. He would succeed Boganda as leader of the country when Boganda died in a plane crash in 1959.
Political Career Edit
First Term Edit
Dacko was appointed Provisional President in 1960 by the French while rival leader Abel Goumba was fought. He would then serve as President from 1960 - 1965. He consolidated his power during this time, maintaining his position as Minister of Defense until 1966 and Keeper of the Seals until 1963. His administration also amended the constitution to transform the country into a one-party regime with a seven-year presidential term. In 1964, Dacko was re-elected in a single candidate election. During his term, Dacko increased diamond production by eliminating private monopolies given to certain companies, giving the right to any Central African to dig for diamonds. This made diamonds the nation's largest export, despite the fact that half of Central Africa's diamonds are smuggled out of the country. He also promoted a policy of "Centralafricanization" in the administration of the country, leading to an increase in corruption. He also increased the portion of the national budget dedicated to paying bureaucrats, which has caused the problem of locating funds for said payment to corrupt and inefficient bureaucrats to be an issue to this day.
First Coup Edit
On the last night of 1965, General Jean-Bedel Bokassa successfully overthrew Dacko and prevented the accession of rival Colonel Jean Izamo. Dacko was placed under house arrest in Lobaye, but was released in 1969 and made a personal counselor of Bokassa in 1976. When Bokassa's administration came under increased scrutiny in the 1970s, Dacko successfully escaped to Paris where he convinced the French government to aid him in overthrowing Bokassa.
Second Term Edit
In September 1979, French paratroopers overthrew Bokassa in Operation Barracuda, restoring Dacko as president. Dacko was confirmed in 1981 in a relatively free multi-party election. His second term was controversial, however, with many Central Africans accusing Dacko of serving as a French puppet. The most prominent figure of this group was former Prime Minister Ange-Felix Patasse, who was not only a member of the largest ethnic group in the country but was considered the most popular politician at that time.
Second Coup Edit
Dacko was overthrown a second time in 1981 by Army Chief of Staff Andre Kolingba, who is suspected to have had support from local French troops acting without authorization. Dacko was unharmed and later returned to politics as leader of a new party, the Movement for Democracy and Development (MDD). He participated in both the 1992 and 1993 elections, gaining 20.10% of the vote in 1993.
Later career and death Edit
Dacko continued to serve as a leader of the opposition, along with Kolingba, during the two terms of Ange-Felix Patasse as President. Dacko's last standing in an election was in 1999, where he came in third place with 11.2% of the vote. Dacko's last political participation was in 2003, following the overthrowing of Patasse by General Francois Bozize. Dacko joined the National Dialogue that began in September, but was forced to travel to France to seek treatment for a chronic asthma attack and heart disease. He never reached France, as he died on 20 November in Yaounde, Cameroon. The government of Central Africa declared a month of mourning for his death.