Libreville — Russia and China are muscling their way into the Central African Republic (CAR) as Western clout in the mineral-rich, strategically important nation seems to wane, analysts say. Ranked at the very bottom of the UN’s 188-nation Human Development Index, CAR is mired in poverty and strife. Most of the country is in the hands of militia groups, and violence has prompted a quarter of its 4.5-million people to flee their homes. Even so, the dirt-poor nation sparkles in natural wealth — from diamonds and gold to copper and uranium — and holds a position at the crossroads of central Africa. France, the former colonial power, has traditionally wielded the most clout in CAR. It intervened militarily in 2013 after long-time leader François Bozizé was overthrown by a mainly Muslim rebel alliance, the Séléka. France handed on to a UN peacekeeping mission, but its military visibility has shrunk to 81 military trainers and drones. Earlier this month, France sent Mirage 2000 warplanes ...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, ProfileData financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Times Select.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now