24 January 2011

Central African Republic: Opposition Candidates Complain of Polls Irregularities

Photo: (UN/DPI Photo
Central African Voters go to the polls (file photo).

About 1.8 million voters cast their ballots on Sunday for the Central African Republic's presidential and parliamentary elections.

The turnout is reportedly better than that during the 2005 polls, and security officials were better behaved than in previous elections.

However the election was marred by irregularities, with opposition parties denouncing the confusion which they said characterized the exercise. They presented a long list of grievances, among which were fictitious and displaced polling stations and problematic voters' rolls.

Voting commenced with some difficulties in the Batalimo 3 polling station close to the capital Bangui.  Some who wanted to vote had their voter's cards but their names did not feature in the electoral lists.

Observers reported the problem to government and electoral officials, who acknowledged it was an irregularity which could have a severe impact on the elections. The prefect of Batalimo 3 promised to get in contact with the electoral commission's office in Bangui and to ask for an additional roll including all names.

Bongolo Bonaventure, the community leader, also said that there were voting card holders whose card numbers did not correspond with their names on the voting station rolls. They were unable to cast their ballots. He said that that the head of the polling station told a long line of waiting voters that since their names did not appear in the voters list, they were not allowed to vote.

Opposition parties have denounced these irregularities but the incumbent, President François Bozizé, has downplayed them, saying it is the nature of opposition parties always to complain.

Opposition candidate leader Martin Ziguélé on his part expressed worries as he believes the problems are not isolated but are common to polling stations across the country. He said problems with the voters' roll and the late arrival of election materials suggested electoral commission is incompetent.

Former defence minister and rebel leader Jean-Jacques Demafouth and his supporters said although all went well at their polling station at the mayor's office in Bangui, the same could not be said for other stations. He asked for voting to be extended.

Ex-president Ange-Felix Patassé's followers said they witnessed cases of gross "abuse and fraud" at polling stations around Bangui and its environs. They reported numerous cases of fraudulent cards, fraudulent lists and cases of multiple voting and plan to report these cases to the electoral commission and lay a complaint with the Constitutional Court.

Five candidates contested the presidency and more than 800 the 105 seats in the National Assembly, voting in more than 4,000 polling stations spread across the country. There were more than 1,000 national and international observers.

Report compiled and translated by Michael Tantoh from reports in Africa Info and Le Potentiel:

Elections sur fond des dénonciations

Elections 2011, des irrégularités signalées dans certains bureaux de vote

Journée électorale sur tout le territoire

Journée électorale sur tout le territoire

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