David Dacko’s first round of presidency was from August 14, 1960, to January 1, 1966. And although he had planned to resign, he was ousted in coup d’état.
He would take back the reign as president in 1981, after conspiring with the French to overthrow then-President Jean-Bédel Bokassa who was also his distant cousin. A few months later, Dracko was overthrown again this time by army Chief of Staff General André Kolingba.
One wonders what kind of luck Dacko had.
Born on March 24, 1930, in Mbaiki, Moyen Congo or Middle Congo, Dacko comes from the M’Baka tribe. Shortly after his birth, his family moved to Boda, where his father worked in a store owned by a European coffee planter.
In 1937, Dacko’s father converted to Catholicism and left all of his wives with the exception of one. Dacko’s mother was among the ones who were abandoned.
Dacko then went to live with his uncle Jêrome Gaza in Mbaïki, where he enrolled in primary school before heading to Bambari and to the Ecole Normale of Mouyoundzi in Moyen.
Dracko aspired to be a teacher and in 1951, he became the schoolmaster of a huge primary school in Bangui. Four years later, he would become the principal of Kouanga College and an advocate for independence leader Barthélémy Boganda, ushering in his start in the political realm.
In March 1957, Dacko contested for and won a legislative seat for Ubangi-Shari. Boganda later appointed him as the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Water and Forests, a post he served from May 14, 1957, to August 23, 1958.
He then served as the Minister of the Interior and Administrative Affairs from August to December 1958 and later as the Minister of the Interior, Economy and Commerce until 1959 when he became the President of Middle Congo following Boganda’s death.
On August 13, 1960, when CAR earned complete independence from France, Dacko marked his first presidential term. He amended the constitution to make the country a one-party state.
On January 5, 1964, Dacko won an election. He was the only contender.
During his first term, Dacko upped diamond production by eradicating monopolies within the industry. This enabled diamond exportation to become the country’s hugest sector to date. He also created more civil servant positions, which increased CAR’s national budget.
His attempt to maintain support from France yet not be too dependent on the superpower, coupled with ties to China, weakened the support from Central Africans. Sensing this, Dacko planned to resign in 1965.
However, on the night of December 31, 1965, General Bokassa carried out a coup against Dacko, placing him under house arrest in Lobaye only to be released on July 16, 1969.
Bokassa, coming under criticism in the 70s, eventually named Dacko his personal counsellor. It was, however, shortlived as Dacko, sensing a shift of support from Bokassa, left CAR for France.
He would come back home with a French-supported plan to overthrow Bokassa in an operation called Barracuda in September 1979.
In March 1981, Dacko was once again made the President of CAR.
Seen as a puppet for the French, Dacko didn’t hold the trust and confidence of his constituents. His right to rule was challenged by his former Prime Minister Ange-Félix Patassé.
On September 1, 1981, Dacko was overthrown again, this time by army Chief of Staff General André Kolingba.
Dacko didn’t let two coups dampen his political spirit. He continued to immerse himself in politics by leading the Movement for Democracy and Development (MDD) – an opposing party to Kolingba’s administration.
He even ran in the 1992 and 1993 elections.
On September 9, 2003, he took part in the Dialogue Nationale or National Dialogue – a forum that was formulated to “debate reform and suggest remedies” after the September 11 terrorist attacks and terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia.
On November 20, 2003, Dacko died in Yaoundé, Cameroon while attempting to seek treatment in France for a previous asthma attack and heart disease. He was buried on December 13 in Mokinda, near his hometown.
A month of mourning was instituted in CAR after his death. He was survived by his wife Brigitte and 11 children; seven sons and four daughters.
The Avenue President David Dacko was named after him.