19 February 2016

Central African Republic: Touadera 'Comfortably' Leading in Presidential Runoff

Photo: Faustin Archange Touadera/Page Facebook
Faustin-Archange Touadéra

Faustin Archange Touadera, who led in the first round of the Central African Republic's presidential election has taken an early lead in the run-off.

Partial results of votes counted in the capital, Bangui indicate that the former premier has a comfortable lead ahead of his presidential rival Anicet Georges Dologuele, officials said.

Following the first round of the election held on December 30, citizens of the crisis-hit nation went to the polls on February 14 to choose between the two former premiers.

Mr Touadera garnered slightly more than 120,000 votes in Bangui against 55,000 for his rival Dologuele, AFP reported citing results released by CAR election management body, the National Election Authority (ANE).

The two former prime ministers had campaigned on a platform of restoring security and boosting the economy.

Earlier on February 17, the two rivals traded accusations of fraud, influence peddling and intimidation over the vote.

Speaking at a news conference, a spokesman for Mr Dologuele's party said they had "tangible proof of fraud organised by the adversary in (the capital) Bangui and in the provinces."

"We have received reports of several cases of intimidation with chiefs of armed militias patrolling city districts and villages or in polling stations to influence voting," Mr Saturnin Ndomby said.

He also denied claims that Mr Dologuele had held secret talks with a top official of the country's election authority, Julius Ngouade Baba, late on Monday on rigging the results.

Respect results

While denying the allegations, the spokesman said Dologuele's rival, Touadera was trying to "fuel a climate of tension and undermine the credibility of the institutions" organising the election.

Earlier on Tuesday, the African Union called on the candidates to respect results of the second round of voting, which included delayed legislative elections.

In a statement released in Bangui, the AU electoral observer mission, led by former Senegalese Prime Minister Souleymane Ndiaye, said the presidential runoff was "generally peaceful and transparent."

"The mission urges political parties and candidates to respect the verdict from the ballot box and maintain the peaceful climate that prevailed during the electoral process," the statement said.

The United Nations also described the February 14 presidential runoff as "generally peaceful."

Around 2,000 UN peacekeepers were deployed in the capital and 8,000 more maintained security in the largely chaotic provinces. Armoured vehicles from a 900-soldier French military contingent also patrolled the streets of Bangui, according to France24 news channel.

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