/ 7 January 2021

Incumbent wins Central African Republic election

President Faustin Archange Touadera signs a peace deal between the Central African Republic government and 14 armed groups following two weeks of talks in the Sudanese capital Khartoum.
Another chance. President Faustin Archange Touadera. (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters)

Central African Republic (CAR) President Faustin Archange Touadéra has won an outright election victory after a tense first round of voting in the country, the electoral commission announced this week.

The December 27 presidential election, which coincided with legislative polls, took place as a coalition of armed rebel groups renewed an offensive that left thousands unable to cast their ballots.

Runner-up Anicet Georges Dologuélé, who won 21.01% to Touadéra’s 53.9%, labelled the vote a “farce”, saying: “There were many irregularities and instances of fraud.”

Touadéra’s government controls only about one-third of the former French colony, with militia groups that emerged from a conflict in 2013 controlling the remainder of the territory.

According to official figures, voting did not take place at all in 29 of the country’s 71 sub-prefectures and was curtailed in six others. Last Wednesday, the opposition called for the vote to be annulled, calling it badly flawed.

On Monday, National Elections Authority chief Mathias Morouba said Touadéra, 63, won “an absolute majority” of the vote and had been “declared elected”.

According to the authority, turnout had reached 76.31%. 

The rebels, after threatening to disrupt the elections and “march on Bangui”, have been kept away from the capital so far by federal soldiers, United Nations peacekeepers and reinforcements sent from Russia and Rwanda.

But unrest has persisted since the election and on Sunday rebels seized the city of Bangassou, about 750km east of Bangui, after what the UN peacekeeping force Minusca described as a “violent attack”.

On Monday, Minusca said its forces had “secured” part of the city  of about 30 000 inhabitants after sending in reinforcements a few hours before the expected announcement of the results.

Bangassou was “calm but tense, with armed elements present in some parts of the city”, Minusca spokesman Vladimir Monteiro said in a statement, adding that two soldiers had been hurt in the fighting. “Public buildings have been secured … and so are not occupied,” he said.

However, Doctors Without Borders mission chief in CAR, Emmanuel Lampaert, said: “It is clear that the city is controlled by the rebels.”

Earlier on Monday, CAR prosecutors launched an investigation into former president Francois Bozizé, accused by the government of plotting a coup with the help of armed groups ahead of the elections. Bozizé denies the allegations.