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CAR Court Annuls Legislative Polls; Presidential Runoff Vote Set


FILE - A man casts his ballot during elections in Bangui, Central African Republic, Dec. 30, 2015. The nation's top court has annulled the legislative elections and approved a presidential runoff vote.

The top Central African Republic court has annulled last month’s legislative elections, but confirmed that two former prime ministers will face off for the presidency.

The C.A.R.’s Constitutional Court ruled late Monday that the first-round legislative vote Dec. 30 was marred by numerous irregularities, and said some candidates appeared to be involved in them.

Court president Zacharie Ndoumba said election officials had received more than 400 complaints about the polls.

"The court has decided to cancel the [legislative] election of 30 December 2015 and to reschedule it for the whole country," Ndouba said late Monday.

Next steps unclear

The court did give the green light for a presidential runoff election between the top first-round vote-getters, Anicet Georges Dologuele and Faustin Archange Touadera.

On Tuesday, the national election authority scheduled the second round of presidential polls for Feb. 14. It has not yet given a date for the new legislative elections.

The court's decision raises questions over the next steps for the electoral process. The former French colony could now find itself with a president but no new parliament.

Six of the 30 presidential candidates submitted challenges to the court, saying polling was marred by irregularities and called for the vote to be annulled or recounted, but the court dismissed them.

In results announced earlier this month, Dologuele won 24 percent of the vote, followed by Touadera with 19 percent.

Dologuele, 58, is an economist who served as prime minister from 1999 to 2001 under the government of President Ange-Felix Patasse.

Toudera, also 58, is a mathematician who was prime minister under President Francois Bozize from 2008 to 2013.

It was Bozize’s ouster by the Seleka rebel group in 2013 that triggered the C.A.R.’s political crisis. Since then, sectarian violence between Muslims and Christians has displaced nearly 1 million people.

Some information for this report came from Reuters.