Central Africa president Touadera heading to election victory, says party
Central African Republic President Faustin Archange Touadera is on track to win last weekend’s elections, his party said on Thursday, a day after the opposition called for the vote to be annulled.
“Trends… point to a first-round victory by Professor Touadera, reflecting the renewed legitimacy that the people have conferred on our candidate,” his campaign director, Simplice Mathieu Sarandji, told a news conference.
A powerful coalition of opposition groups said Wednesday the vote in the violence-torn country had been badly flawed, and called for its “cancellation, pure and simple.”
Sarandji said the electoral and judicial bodies could be trusted.
“No candidate has any right to go through non-official channels to call for the elections to be cancelled and to be held again,” he said, speaking at the headquarters of Touadera’s United Hearts Movement (MCU) party.
The elections, staged last Sunday for the presidency and the legislature, are widely seen as a key stability test for the CAR.
The landlocked country is one of the poorest in the world and among the most volatile, suffering a string of coups and wars since gaining independence from France in 1960.
In 2013, it spiralled once more into bloodshed when then-president, Francois Bozize, who had himself seized power a decade earlier, was overturned by a mostly Muslim coalition called the Seleka.
Touadera, who was elected in 2016 after a turbulent transition following the coup, is the frontrunner in the crowded field of 16 candidates.
But his government controls only about one-third of the country, with militia groups that emerged from the conflict in 2013 controlling the other two-thirds.
On Wednesday, the Democratic Opposition Coalition (COD-2020), an alliance of political and other groups, said the elections “were not fair and inclusive and are in no way the expression of the people’s will”.
Condemning an “electoral farce”, it claimed widespread ballot stuffing and complained of a lack of observers.
According to official figures, voting did not take place in 29 of the country’s 71 sub-prefectures (sub-divisions of large administrative districts), and only partly so in six others.
In many areas, militia groups hampered the organisation of the elections and intimidated voters, according to local leaders and UN workers who asked not to be named.
In addition, thousands of people were prevented from voting or never received their voting cards because of the lack of security.
Provisional results are expected from January 4, but no final results are expected before January 18. A runoff will be held on February 14 if there is no outright winner in the first round.