C. African Republic candidates call for halt to vote count

AP News
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Posted: Jan 04, 2016 2:35 PM

BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — Counting of Central African Republic's national elections must stop, about two-thirds of the 30 presidential candidates said Monday, alleging fraud.

Some 20 candidates made the demand at a news conference, after nearly 40 percent of the country's vote had been counted. About 16 candidates signed a declaration, saying the move will prevent unrest.

Nearly 2 million Central African Republic citizens were registered to vote Dec. 30 in much-delayed national elections meant to replace a transitional government and bring stability after years of sectarian violence. Some irregularities in voting were cited.

"The nature of manipulations fundamentally calls to question the sincerity, transparency and credibility of the elections," said Theodore Kapou, an independent candidate and spokesman for the contesting candidates. "These serious shortcomings that have marred the electoral process will lead to the population's rejection of the results, inevitably causing new conflagration in the country."

Central African Republic has been rocked by violence since March 2013 when a largely Muslim alliance of rebel groups overthrew the president. The rebel leader left power in 2014 and a horrific backlash by the Christian anti-Balaka militia against Muslim civilians followed.

The National Electoral Authority said all candidates signed an agreement to respect the electoral code of conduct, which also states that any appeal must be brought by lawful means. Candidates can contest final results before the constitutional court finalizes them.

By Monday, partial results showed Faustin Archange Touadera, prime minister until 2013, leading with about 147,000 votes, followed by another former prime minister, Anicet Georges Dologuele, with nearly 110,000 votes. Independent candidate Jean Serge Bokassa was third with nearly 69,000.

Fourth-placed Desire Nzanga Bilal Kolingba, signed the declaration. The son of a former president, on Thursday he cited voting irregularities and warned against the theft of what he said was his "certain victory."