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Central African Republic President Re-Elected

President Francois Bozize gives a thumbs up after voting on January 23, 2011

President Francois Bozize gives a thumbs up after voting on January 23, 2011

The electoral commission in the Central African Republic says the president has been re-elected with nearly thirds of the vote. Opposition candidates are challenging the results.

The electoral commission says provisional results from January's vote show President Francois Bozize has won re-election with more than 66 percent of ballots cast.

President Bozize came to power in a 2003 coup against Ange-Felix Patasse. Mr. Patasse returned to the Central African Republic to contest this election and, according to provisional results, finished second with just over 20 percent of the vote.

Mr. Patasse's campaign intends to challenge the results before the constitutional court. An opposition coalition that includes a former prime minister and a former defense minister also intends to appeal the electoral commission's results, calling the ballot a "masquerade." President Bozize's spokesman says his re-election is a great victory for the people.

This vote was delayed several times, in part because the electoral commission said it was not ready, in part because of a continuing rebellion in the north and fighting in the east between the Ugandan rebel Lord's Resistance Army and government troops supported by Ugandan soldiers.

By agreement with opposition parties, President Bozize and the 102-member parliament served beyond the expiration of their mandate last June to give the electoral commission more time to register voters and prepare for the poll.

Voter turn-out was just over 54 percent. The constitutional court has until the beginning of next week to hear complaints and decide whether to validate the results.