French colonizers did promote ethnic and regional distinctions among their Central African subjects.
The French helped to create an elite group, which emerged as an indigenous ruling group for the whole country and has held most political positions since independence.
Other, nonriverine Central Africans, who are far more numerous, have tended to resent this situation and have occasionally taken leadership roles themselves.
The 1995 constitution was suspended in 2003, following a military coup. Under a new constitution promulgated in late 2004, the president is head of state and limited to two consecutive five-year terms.
The constitution also provides for a prime minister, a council of ministers, and a 105-member National Assembly.
In January 2013 a rebel coalition and the government agreed to a power-sharing deal, but in March the rebels seized power and the president fled the country.