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Central African Republic: Observer group notes possible election irregularities

Electoral workers start to count votes at the Lycée Boganda polling station in the capital Bangui, Central African Republic Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020.   -  
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AP/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press.

Central African Republic

An opposition coalition in the Central African Republic has called for an annulment of the presidential and legislative elections last Sunday, as they say, a third of voters were unable to cast their vote due to insecurity.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Democratic Opposition Coalition (COD-2020), said the elections “were not fair and inclusive and are in no way the expression of the people’s will”.

The group condemned an “electoral farce”, and alleged widespread ballot stuffing and complained of a lack of observers in remote areas.

“Given that the elections… were not an expression of the will of the Central African people,” the coalition called for the “outright cancellation and repeat of elections”.

It also said insecurity stopped voting in 2,115 polling stations, preventing over 621,000 voters, or about a third of the electorate.

Voting by dispensation

Meanwhile, an observer group said a large number of voters cast ballots with letters of exemption in the capital Bangui.

The procedure allows voters to cast their ballot elsewhere than the polling station where they are registered.

The Rainbow Network, a coalition of 17 human rights and religious groups, said 81 percent of the votes were cast by dispensation in Bangui.

"Three days before the end of the mandate of the members of the ANE (the National Elections Authority), the president of the ANE proceeded to issue deregistration certificates to voters who had voted massively," said Origine Bekondi, Rainbow Network coordinating member.

"In the polling stations we observed in Bangui, there had been more than a thousand cases of voting by dispensation."

The group urged the National Election Authority to publish the results of polling stations, mentioning the number of votes by derogation.

Father Fréderic Nakombo, another coordinator from the group, said in about 22 percent of cases, voters were denied access to the polls primarily due to a lack of voter cards.

But a government spokesperson said on Tuesday the elections were legitimate and credible,

Residents in the capital Bangui turned out in large numbers and voted peacefully Sunday, but many others could not because of the activities of rebels who control two-thirds of the country.

"We have had credible, committed and popular elections," government spokesman Ange Maxime Kazagui told journalists in Bangui.

"Certain people have been saying that these elections should not have taken place and that everything should be done to scare and discourage Central Africans," he added.

"Despite that, Central Africans showed their firm will to go and vote, despite the dangers."


The electoral commission said on Tuesday that about 800 of a total 5,408 polling stations did not open because of insecurity.

The country has been marred by violence since 2013 with thousands being killed and more than a million fleeing their homes.

Campaigning was also threatened by armed groups and former President Francois Bozize was barred from running.

Security forces were aided by more than 12,000 UN peacekeepers. Reinforcements from Russia and Rwanda also helped fend off insecurity.

The first results are expected to start trickling on Wednesday.

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