The Constitutional Court confirms Touadera’s controversial victory in last month’s ballot amid threats from armed groups to attack the capital.
The Constitutional Court of the Central African Republic has confirmed the contested re-election of President Faustin-Archange Touadera in polls last month which were marked by low turnout.
The opposition had urged the court to order a resumption of the vote, saying insecurity and alleged irregularities had marred the process.
Touadera “is proclaimed to be reelected president in the first round of the elections of December 27, 2020 ”, declared Monday the chief justice Daniele Darlan, validating results which gave him 53.16% of the votes.
The court estimated the turnout at just 35.25%, a figure affected by the inability of many voters to vote. However, he rejected arguments that the vote lacked legitimacy.
“Part of the Central African people, who are at war, were prevented by acts of terror… and despite this, the people sent a strong and clear message to those who terrorized them, to those who told them not to vote, to the whole world, ”Darlan said, reading a statement.
Touadera, 63, took the presidential office for the first time in 2016.
Tensions have escalated dramatically since the presidential elections, with an armed alliance opposing Touadera’s re-election trying to invade the capital, Bangui, last week. Security forces backed by United Nations peacekeepers eventually repelled the attack.
Malcolm Webb of Al Jazeera, reporting from Bangui, said the threat to invade Bangui by armed groups remains.
“The armed groups control about two-thirds of the country’s territory and they are positioned just a few kilometers from Bangui,” he said.
“Outside the headquarters of the ruling party led by Touadera, there are celebrations, but the end of the electoral process is certainly not the end of the story,” Webb added, noting an accumulation of thousands of fighters have took place on the outskirts of Bangui.
He added: “The armed groups just outside the capital say they are rejecting the government. They are very clear that their intention is to attack the city like they did last week and take power. “
Bozize accused of violence
Former President Francois Bozize and his allies have been accused of inciting violence, which erupted after the Constitutional Court rejected his candidacy in December.
A judicial inquiry has been opened into the role of Bozize, who was in exile until his return to the country in December 2019, according to the Attorney General at the Bangui Court of Appeal.
Bozize, who seized power in a coup in 2003 and ruled until 2013, faces an international arrest warrant for “crimes against humanity and incitement to genocide.” It also faces UN sanctions for its alleged role in supporting armed groups that resisted the Seleka rebels in 2013.
The mineral-rich CAR has faced deadly interfaith and inter-communal fighting since 2013, when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in Bozize after long claiming marginalization.
Resistance to the Seleka regime ultimately led to Muslims being targeted en masse, with some beaten to death, mosques destroyed and tens of thousands expelled from the capital in 2014.
Touadera is counting on the help of UN peacekeepers and military support from Russia and Rwanda to drive armed groups away from government-controlled areas of the country.