News / Africa

    Vote Delay in Central African Republic Could Extend President's Term

    Elections in the Central African Republic have been postponed for a second time, raising the likelihood that the president will remain in office past the end of his June mandate.

    President Francois Bozize agreed to delay the May 16 vote after meeting with opposition leaders who say the Central African Republic must first update its voter lists and disarm rebel groups.

    That will now likely keep President Bozize in office beyond the expiration of his constitutional mandate June 11th. In an announcement on state radio, the president said he will work with the national assembly to, in his words, "suggest a way we can avoid anarchy in the country."

    President Bozize won election in 2005 after taking power in a coup two years earlier against the government of Ange-Felix Patasse. He and Mr. Patasse are the only two candidates in this vote because a coalition of opposition parties is boycotting the process over concerns about security and the electoral list.

    This vote was originally scheduled for last Sunday but was delayed until May. Electoral commission spokesman Rigobert Vondo says it must now be pushed back again because a vote can not technically be organized within the next three weeks.

    Thierry Vircoulon directs the Central Africa project for the International Crisis Group. He says elections in the Central African Republic are both too early and too late: too early because militias are not disarmed, too late because President Bozize's mandate expires in June.

    "Beyond June you have a constitutional problem," Vircoulon said. "So you have there a real dilemma between the fact that the constitution has its own timeframe, and you have also the problem of implementing the electoral process which requires more time."

    The ten-party Collective of Forces for Change coalition says a free and fair vote is not possible while violence continues in the north between government troops and rebels opposed to the Bozize government and in the east between the Ugandan rebel Lord's Resistance Army and government troops supported by Ugandan soldiers.

    "There must be security for all the candidates who want to campaign to go to any area they want. That is quite difficult to achieve right now in Central Africa Republic because some areas are still sensitive," said Vircoulon.

    Rebels in the north this month confiscated electoral lists that were being sent to the capital. That fight is compounded by an unrelated rebellion across the border in Chad. The United Nations has nearly 4,000 peacekeepers in the area for both Chad and the Central African Republic, but Chad wants those forces to start pulling out within weeks.

    Dorina Bekoe is a senior research associate at the U.S. Institute of Peace.

    "The Chadian rebellion and the CAR rebellions are linked to internal political instability, and until those two issues find resolution, you are going to continue to see armed rebellion," Bekoe said.

    While President Bozize has not called on the UN's MINURCAT peacekeeping force to leave the Central African Republic, most of those troops are based in Chad. Bekoe says redeploying them against the Lord's Resistance Army would dramatically change their mandate to protect humanitarian assistance to one-quarter million Sudanese refugees and another one-quarter million combined Chadian and Central African Republic civilians.

    "There has been a call for perhaps relocating the UN and MINURCAT to the area where the LRA are operating but that is way beyond the current mandate," Bekoe adds. "They have certainly added to the spread of the humanitarian insecurity and the crisis in CAR."

    The U.N. says LRA attacks on civilians have displaced more than 20,000 people inside the Central African Republic, adding to both electoral insecurity and the likelihood that those people will not be able to vote.

    The Economic Community of Central African States is calling on the Bozize government to continue its dialogue with political opponents to arrive at an acceptable approach to organizing elections that allow both voters and candidates to freely exercise their democratic rights.

    You May Like

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.