CAR poll boycott seen handing ruling party parliament

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The ruling party in Central African Republic (CAR) looked set to secure a commanding majority in parliament after a weekend election dominated by a low turnout due to an opposition boycott.

CAR held the second round of its parliamentary election on Sunday for the remaining 69 seats of the 105 seat parliament. President Francois Bozize’s ruling KNK party had already won 26 of the 35 seats decided in a first round election in January. One constituency has still to vote, due to security problems.

The country is rich in resources such as diamonds, uranium and gold but outside investors have been discouraged by years of instability and poor infrastructure in the isolated central African nation, Reuters reports.

Marcel Malonga, president of the Constitutional Court, the country’s highest law-making body, said despite the low turnout and the boycott, the legitimacy of the results will not be questioned.
“Nowhere in our laws or constitution does it say that elections results can be questioned because some of the candidates decided to withdraw,” Malonga told Reuters.

Most opposition politicians pulled out the election in protest over the preparations for the poll, which they said had fraudulently handed incumbent Bozize another term as president and the majority of the seats in the first round of voting in January.

Malonga said opposition candidates took 9 of the 35 seats in the first round, and some who thought they had a chance, did not follow the boycott order and took part in the second round, so the ruling party would not be the only party in parliament.

The vote in January had been repeatedly delayed due to rows over preparations.
“Our boycott has been followed very well. The population adhered to this boycott simply because they refuse to sanction an election hold-up by Bozize,” Martin Ziguele, the main opposition leader said.

Yves Zokoe, an official at the Central African election observatory, said turnout appeared to have been low country-wide. There were no official figures for results or turnout.



But Bozize’s government said it was satisfied with the poll.
“The call for a boycott will not have any impact. The KNK will have an absolute majority in the parliament and that is satisfying for the government,” Fidele Gouandjika, a spokesman, said.