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World

C.Africa president Touadera heading to election victory, says party

  • A powerful coalition of opposition groups on Wednesday said the December 27 vote was badly flawed and demanded its "cancellation, pure and simple".
Published December 31, 2020

BANGUI: Central African Republic (CAR) 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 on Wednesday said the December 27 vote was badly flawed and demanded its "cancellation, pure and simple".

But Sarandji, a former prime minister, said the CAR's 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.

"Trends provided by our representatives at polling stations at home and abroad" put the turnout at 51.86 percent of the electorate, he added.

The elections, staged for the presidency and legislature, are widely seen as a key stability test.

The landlocked country is one of the poorest in the world and among the most volatile, suffering coups and wars since 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, is the frontrunner on Sunday in a 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.

Voting took place without incident in the capital Bangui but in many other areas, militia groups hampered the poll 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.

Ballots are being sent to Bangui for collation, a process that will take days, with provisional results expected from January 4.

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