The National Election Authority of the Central African Republic, (CAR) has approved constitutional amendment to extend the presidential term from five to seven years and eliminate the two-term limit. This change would permit the current 66-year-old President, Faustin-Archange Touadera, to pursue a third term in 2025. Critics have expressed concerns that he intends to remain in power indefinitely.
The National Election Authority of the Central African Republic, (CAR) disclosed the outcomes of the 30th of July referendum, with a substantial 95.27 percent of voters favoring the proposed text. Despite the boycott of the vote by the main opposition parties, civil society organizations, and armed rebel groups, the voter turnout reached over 61 percent.
The provisional results, as reported by RFI, are now subject to ratification by the constitutional court, which is set to finalize the outcome by the 27th of August.
Touadera initially won the presidency in 2016, following a civil war marked by sectarian divisions that emerged after a coup. He brought in a private Russian mercenary group known as Wagner in 2018 to bolster security efforts.
In 2020, Touadera secured a second five-year term despite the vote being marred by interruptions caused by armed rebel groups and allegations of fraud.
Since December 2020, a coalition of powerful rebel groups has launched an offensive countered by deployments of Wagner fighters and Rwandan troops. This follows a background of unrest and conflict in the nation.
Critics of the referendum raised concerns about the absence of an updated electoral register and the perceived lack of independence among institutions tasked with ensuring a free and fair election. Crepin Mboli-Goumba, coordinator of the BRDC opposition coalition, dismissed the referendum’s credibility and stated, “It’s a comedy… we’ve all seen that people didn’t go out to vote and it doesn’t reflect the will of the Central African people.”
Human Rights Watch reported instances of government officials coercing and threatening those opposing the referendum. The authorities also prevented an opposition rally in the capital, aiming to suppress dissent against the vote.
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