Central African Republic: Ex-President, Rebels Connive to Derail CAR Polls

François Bozizé, former president of the Central African Republic (file photo).

Bangui, Central African Republic (CAR) — ARMED groups, some allegedly working with a former president whose candidature has been invalidated, are threatening the holding of credible elections in the Central African Republic (CAR).

The ungovernable country is bracing for presidential and legislative polls on December 27.

Incumbent, Faustin-Archange Touadéra, is one of 17 candidates vying for the presidency but the invalidation of the ex-president, François Bozizé, has sparked tensions.

The presence and threats of armed groups has added to the uncertainty, much to the concern of the United Nations Mission in CAR (MINUSCA).

Vladimir Monteiro, MINUSCA spokesperson, condemned alliances between Bozizé and armed groups.

"The activities of the former president and contacts with armed groups are not likely to contribute to a peaceful electoral process," the envoy said.

The UN mission called on Bozizé against destabilizing and disrupting the electoral process in the Central African country.

"Actions aimed at disrupting the electoral process and weakening the country will not go unpunished," Monteiro warned.

Bozizé was in power from 2003 to 2013. He was ousted after an uprising by Muslim extremists.

The Constitutional Court has disqualified him from the upcoming polls as he is under sanctions of the UN and target of an international arrest warrant filed by the CAR in 2014.

This is for alleged war crimes.

Meanwhile, rebel groups are disrupting preparations for polls.

The armed men recently took vehicles of certain campaigning candidates in the northwestern Ouham prefecture (province/state).

The Islamist Union for Peace is accused of recruiting new elements, in defiance of a pace deal government signed with armed groups in 2019.

Hate messages by some politicians is also a concern.

Insecurity marred polls in 2015/16. More than 1,954 million voters participated, representing a turnout of 57,96 percent.

On a positive note, another Islamist movement, The Popular Front for the Rebirth of CAR has pledged to release 276 children it has recruited into its ranks during conflict.

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