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C.African court approves constitutional referendum result

By AFP
Central African Republic Approval of the referendum removed the last legal hurdle preventing President Faustin Archange Touadera from seeking a third term in office.  By Barbara DEBOUT (AFP)
MON, 21 AUG 2023 LISTEN
Approval of the referendum removed the last legal hurdle preventing President Faustin Archange Touadera from seeking a third term in office. By Barbara DEBOUT (AFP)

Central African Republic's top court on Monday approved the outcome of a referendum which found that 95 percent of voters backed constitutional changes that will enable President Faustin Archange Touadera to seek a third term.

The changes, fiercely criticised by the opposition, will scrap the CAR's two-term limit and extend the presidential mandate from five to seven years.

The Constitutional Court "validates and announces the definitive results of the constitutional referendum of July 30", its president, Jean-Pierre Waboe, declared at a court session.

The final results made only minor changes to the provisional results announced by the National Election Authority on August 7.

The Yes vote was officially given as 95.03 percent, compared with 95.27 percent earlier, while turnout was reduced to 57.23 percent, against 61.10 percent announced previously.

The country's main opposition parties and civil society groups had urged a boycott.

One of the poorest and most troubled countries in the world, the landlocked CAR nation has been gripped by conflict and political turmoil for most of its history since independence from France in 1960.

Touadera, 66, was first elected president in 2016, after French military intervention, followed by deployment of UN peacekeepers, ended a bloody civil war that flared along sectarian lines.

Central African Republic.  By Sylvie HUSSON, Anibal MAIZ CACERES (AFP) Central African Republic. By Sylvie HUSSON, Anibal MAIZ CACERES (AFP)

In 2020 he won a second term but the ballot had a turnout of only a third of the electorate as rebel groups who controlled swathes of the country intimated voters.

The Constitutional Court last September dealt a humiliating blow to the proposed constitutional change, scrapping the establishment of a committee tasked with drafting the new charter.

The court's president, Daniele Darlan, was then targeted in violent verbal attacks by Touadera supporters and in January this year was forcibly retired.

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