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Parties Reach Deal on Central African Republic Vote

  • Nico Colombant

Political parties and the coup leader in the Central African Republic have reached an agreement on reinstating all but one of the excluded candidates for a delayed presidential election.

A deal signed Saturday in Gabon allows the participation of six of the seven candidates who were still excluded from running in the poll, now pushed back from next month to March 13.

Toppled former president Ange-Felix Patasse, who lives in exile in Togo, is still barred from competing because of a pending corruption case against him.

Long-time Gabonese President Omar Bongo mediated the accord, as current head of the Economic Community of Central African Sates.

One of those reinstated, former defense minister Jean-Jacques Demafouth, told reporters in Libreville he was overjoyed that he didn't travel 6,000 kilometers for nothing.

But he said it wasn't up to him to comment on behalf of the former president, who failed to show up for the negotiations.

The exclusion of the other candidates had caused an internal political crisis, marring efforts to bring the Central African Republic back to democracy.

General Francois Bozize who led the coup in March 2003 is also running. He says he is trying to end decades of corruption and civil strife.

The CAR is one of the world's most impoverished countries, where government employees often go months without receiving a paycheck.

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