Several thousand people gathered Sunday alongside President Faustin-Archange Touadéra in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, to launch the referendum campaign on a new draft constitution that could allow the Head of State stand for a third term.
Touadéra, delivered the new constitution draft to the campaign organizers at the end of June.
"Today I want to appeal to the sons and daughters of the country. The referendum vote gives you the opportunity to decide on a better future for the country. So don't let this opportunity to create a new republic through the constitution pass you by," Touadéra told the packed crowd of supporters.
If approved, the new constitution removes the limit of two terms to the president, therefore, allowing the president to run for a third term in office. Touadera's campaign team tried to allay fears over the referendum.
"My dear Central African brothers and sisters, don't be afraid to vote on 30 July. In order to move things forward, let's all vote "yes" to the new constitution." Evariste Ngamana, Central African referendum campaign director said.
The draft constitution which will also ban dual citizens from running for the top office has triggered protests from the opposition, the latest of which was held on Friday where opposition leaders led a March of around 500 people under heavy security from the CAR security forces and the United Nations' peacekeeping mission MINUSCA.
"We cannot accept that someone who came to power through a democratic process and maintained his position in 2021 through an electoral farce can decide to stay in power and give himself power for life," Mahamat Kamoun, member of the Bloc Républicain pour la Défense de la Constitution (BRDC) said.
"That is why we have mobilised all the Central Africans who are against (the new draft constitution to express our discontent, our opposition to this referendum and therefore to this constitution" added Kamoun.
The campaign kicked off on July 15. and is set to end on July 28 while voting is due to take place on July 30.