Elections in Central African Republic

12 February 2011

On 23 January, the delayed first round of presidential and parliamentary elections in Central African Republic took place, in which Martin Ziguélé, Leader of the SI member party the Movement for the Liberation of the Central African People (MLPC) was one of four presidential candidates standing against the incumbent François Bozizé. On the day of the polls, many irregularities were reported, including fictional, displaced or non-existent polling stations, rigged voter registration lists, duplicate voting cards and an absence of the legally required minutes in a number of polling stations.

These reports led to the withdrawal of the representatives of three of the four opposition candidates – Martin Ziguélé, Emile Gros-Raymond Nakombo and Jean-Jacques Demafouth, who together form the Collectif des forces de changement, CFC – from the independent electoral commission (CEI), in order to disassociate themselves from the results, which they rejected in advance of their publication due to anomalies in the electoral process, denouncing an “electoral hold-up, meticulously prepared and carefully executed by General Bozizé and his party”. Provisional results published on 2 February, awarded the election to Bozizé with 66.08% of the first round vote, followed by former president Ange-Félix Patassé (20.1%), Ziguélé (6.46%), Nakombo (4.64%) and Demafouth (2.72%).

Following the declaration by the CEI, Ziguélé, Nakombo and Patassé announced their decision to challenge the results in the Constitutional Court, charged with their verification, a challenge given greater impetus by the revelation on 5 February that the results from a quarter of polling stations had not been taken into account. An enquiry into the conduct of the simultaneously held legislative elections led to the arrest of three members of the CEI in Boganda, due to a failure to return the results from that constituency in their entirety. Provisional results from the first round of the legislative elections had given Bozizé’s Kwa Na Kwa (KNK) party outright victory in 26 of 105 seats, and the lead in the majority of those in which a run-off election will be contested. These results were rejected by Ziguélé and Nakombo as being part of the same flawed process that produced victory for Bozizé in the presidential election.

On Saturday 12 February, the Constitutional Court confirmed the results of the election, making only slight adjustments to the provisional scores announced by the CEI, placing Bozizé on 64.37% followed by Patassé in second place with 21.41% and Ziguélé in third with 6.8%. This predictable endorsement of the results of the CEI by the Constitutional Court, which translates into re-election for Bozizé without the need for a run-off vote, in contrast with the last presidential elections in 2005, was once more rejected as representative of a fraudulent vote by Ziguélé.