Central African Republic’s President Francois Bozize has accepted delaying a presidential election planned for April 25 but he wants the poll held before the end of his term in June, a statement on state radio said.
Bozize and his rivals have clashed over when to hold the election in the nation that is rich in gold, diamonds and uranium but remains poor and suffers from both internal rebellions and regional instability.
Donors and the election commission have said a free and fair election would not be possible on time and have been pushing for a delay but Bozize previously said any such postponement would be unconstitutional.
“I accept the proposition … by our friends in the international community to delay the election initially set for April 25,” Bozize said in a statement read on national radio on Saturday.
“I therefore call on the independent election commission to propose a new date for the elections, so long as it does not fall after June 11, 2010, as we cannot have a legal void,” he added, referring to the date his term as president ends.
Bozize came to power in a 2003 coup and then won a five-year term in the last presidential election in 2005.
His government has held reconciliation talks with civilian and rebel rivals, but opposition groups fear the poll will be rigged and several rebel groups continue to operate in the north of the nation.
Bozize’s main rivals have set up a new coalition called the “Forces for Change” and late last week called for thorough reforms before polls are held.
“For the elections to be transparent, credible and accepted by everyone, we propose three months of (disarmament) operations, three months of registering voters and the holding of elections in January 2011,” Nicolas Tchiangaye, a spokesman for the group told reporters.
CAR is one of Africa’s most isolated nations and, while facing several internal rebellions, it has also been caught up in regional conflicts involving Sudan, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Pic: President Francois Bozize of CAR