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Analyst: CAR Voters Skeptical of Free, Fair Election Sunday

François Bozize, President of the Central African Republic Credits: UNDP

A university professor said most people in the Central African Republic are expressing skepticism that this weekend’s much-anticipated presidential and parliamentary elections will be free and fair.

Jean Louis Ndama, English professor at the University of Bangui, told VOA there is growing fear among the population that there could be violence that could destabilize the country.

“For most people, they don’t feel concerned by what is going on because they have the impression that rigging has been done in advance in order to arrange the outcome of the election. That is why it is quite sure that not many people will go and vote on polling day,” said Ndama.

“There is much fear among the people because the system has turned into something like what is in Kazakhstan today and, so, people are much afraid. They are afraid of fight, they are afraid of militias and you can’t really move from one place to another, including the countryside, freely because of the so many checkpoints operated by soldiers who are close to the regime.”

Analysts say strongman and incumbent President Francois Bozize will win the election because of a fractious opposition that they said is incapable of posing any significant political threat.

But, Ndama said the opposition has had only two weeks to campaign, which he said is not enough time to make any meaningful impact in Sunday’s poll.

“He (Mr. Bozize) will win, but not all the people will believe he is the winner. Winning is one thing, but having people to think that the victory is normal is another thing,” Ndama said.

“The problem is that the opposition was not free to campaign and those who have been in power have campaigned for five years, but the opposition is allowed only two weeks to campaign. And, even during the two weeks, it was not sure they were allowed to move freely in the countryside. So, what will come out of the polling will not certainly be the picture, or a snapshot, of what people really feel like.”

An estimated 1.8 million people are registered to vote in Sunday’s presidential and parliamentary elections. The vote, which was scheduled to take place last April, had been delayed three times.

Ndama said many people lack confidence in the electoral commission’s ability to organize a credible vote.

“The electoral commission proved to be inefficient and quite partial and should (have been) dismissed a long time ago. But, it had been kept in place artificially by the whim of only one person. So, it is not quite trusted by the people.”