63-year-old Central African Republic President, Faustin Touadera has announced he will run in the December election in the country. Mr Touadera who governs the country with the support of a large United Nations peacekeeping mission (MINUSCA), was elected in February 2016 with two-thirds of the vote. Since then, he has struggled to stem vicious intercommunal violence in the poor, landlocked nation where armed groups control two-thirds of the territory.
"It is a heavy responsibility. A very heavy responsibility. I accept to be your candidate," the head of state, who had been expected to run for re-election, told members of his United Hearts Movement (MCU) party in the capital Bangui on Saturday.
Faustin Touadera is seeking a return to office at a time when the security situation in the country remains very fragile, notably with violations of the peace agreement by certain armed groups. Under him, the Central African Republic's economy is improving, despite a difficult security and humanitarian environment. The African Development Bank in its 2020 Economic outlook says "Real GDP growth increased from 3.8% in 2018 to 4.5% in 2019, spurred by the steady recovery of agricultural and mining activities. However, inflation rose to 3.5% in 2019 (up from 1.6% in 2018) due to food supply problems."
Two former Presidents, Francois Bozize deposed by a military rebellion in 2013 and Catherine Samba-Panza who guided the country while in transition as interim president from 2014 to 2016 are said to be Touadera's main rival in the December 27 election if their candidacy are validated by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) by mid November 2020.
Meanwhile, uncertainty lingers over whether the elections would be held in the planned time frame, as significant delays have emerged in the organization of the poll including the registration of voters. The Central African Republic's parliament voted on Wednesday, September 23rd 2020 to grant the electoral body extra time to register voters, but the election commission fell behind with voter registration due to the insecurity and additional disruptions linked to the coronavirus pandemic, said Territorial Administration Minister Augustin Yangana-Yahote.