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CAR Opposition Wants all Candidates Included in Upcoming Elections

  • Nico Colombant

Opposition leaders in the Central African Republic are calling for all excluded candidates in next month's presidential election to be reinstated.

A coalition of seven opposition candidates issued a statement late Wednesday saying President Francois Bozize was preparing what they called an "electoral hold-up."

All seven candidates were excluded last month by the country's constitutional court.

One of them, former Prime Minister Martin Ziguele, was excluded because his health certificate says he is "apparently" in good health, rather than "fully."

After an initial uproar, General Bozize reinstated three of them, including Mr. Ziguele, but the three reinstated now say the four others should also be allowed to run.

One of them still being excluded is former President Ange-Felix Patasse. He told journalists in Togo, where he is in exile, this combined protest action is a good sign. He said the political class is finally waking up. He also says failed election could lead to renewed civil war.

Mr. Patasse was ousted in a coup led by Mr. Bozize in March 2003. He is being tried for what Mr. Bozize calls "blood and financial crimes."

Initially, Mr. Bozize had said he would only be president during a transitional period, but then changed his mind, saying it was for the good of impoverished Central Africans.

A regional human rights observer, Alioune Tine, says indications are not good the poll scheduled for February 13 will be democratic.

"There is a threat about these elections," he said. "The problem of the implication of the General Bozize himself. I think that we are not in conditions to have very fair and transparent elections now in Central Africa. I think that we need to have another court, another constitutional court, another body to make the control and the monitoring of these elections."

Opposition leaders have also called for a new constitutional court to take over. They were trying to organize a meeting Wednesday to discuss the situation with their supporters, but authorities banned the gathering.

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