The president of the Central African Republic will stay in power beyond the end of his electoral mandate, in June, because of delays in organizing a new vote. His political opponents want voter lists updated and rebel groups disarmed.
The Central African Republic's constitutional court says President Francois Bozize and the 102-member parliament will now serve beyond the expiration of their June mandates.
Elections were originally scheduled for the end of April, then postponed until the middle of May. Justice Minister Laurent Gon Baba says it is now clear they cannot be organized before President Bozize's term expires, June 11.
Baba says the Independent Electoral Commission proposed a date for the vote but saw that there were delays in organizing that election that would not allow the vote to be held before June 11.
In view of that situation, Baba says lawmakers and the constitutional court have approved extending President Bozize's mandate beyond June 11, so he can finish the electoral process he has begun.
Mr. Bozize won election in 2005 after taking power in a coup two years earlier against then-president Ange-Felix Patasse. So far, Mr. Bozize and Mr. Patasse are the only two candidates for this vote because a coalition of opposition parties is boycotting the process because of concerns about security and the electoral list.
The ten-party Collective of Forces for Change says conditions for democratic and impartial elections cannot be guaranteed while voter registration lists are incomplete and violence continues in the north between government troops and rebels opposed to the Bozize government. There is also fighting in the east between the Ugandan rebel Lord's Resistance Army and government troops, supported by Ugandan soldiers.
President Bozize agreed to delay the vote after meeting with leaders from the Collective of Forces for Change, who say they will not challenge the legitimacy of his rule beyond June 11, so long as there is progress toward organizing a vote.
The Economic Community of Central African States says the Bozize government should continue talks with its political opponents to arrive at an acceptable approach to elections that allow both voters and candidates to freely exercise their democratic rights.