afrol News, 5 February - Central African President François Bozizé officially has been re-elected with 66 percent of the vote. But the opposition candidates are now joining forces to file a complaint over election fraud.
The electoral commission of the Central African Republic already on Wednesday announced that incumbent President Bozizé had won the presidential elections outright in 23 January first round. Mr Bozizé had gained 66.06 percent, or a total of 607,184 votes in the poll, it was officially stated.
Despite a very poor voter turnout - only at 54 percent - President Bozizé therefore would not have to face a candidate in a run-off election, it was concluded.
The opposition had polled poorly at the presidential election. Ex-President Ange-Félix Patassé, who was toppled by general Bozizé in a 2003 coup, had only achieved 20.10 percent of the votes, according to the electoral commission. Mr Patassé's former Prime Minister Martin Ziguélé came third, with a modest 6.46 percent of the vote.
Soon after the announcement, ex-President Patassé told the press that he believed the results to be manipulated by the electoral commission, which, according to him, always was favouring President Bozizé.
The result, the ex-President claimed, were suspiciously close to the 2005 presidential elections, in which General Bozizé had legitimised his military coup by being elected in a poll generally described as imperfect.
With the Central African opposition hopelessly split before the elections, the "suspicious" re-election of President Bozizé has served to unite it. Ex-Prime Minister Ziguélé yesterday announced he had "reached reconciliation" with Mr Patassé and that the two opposition leaders would unite to fight the official election result.
The two men now plan to file an official complaint with the Constitutional Court in Bangui, hoping to document that the poll results were manipulated by the electoral commission. The Court within two weeks must state whether it confirms or declines the results presented by the electoral commission.
The Central African government has reacted sourly to the complaints filed by the two opposition leaders, calling them "bad losers" and holding they were promoting "selfish interests" instead of the interests of the nation.
Observers give the complaint little chances. There were few observers out to document possible fraud during the electoral process, and there have so far been very few credible reports of serious irregularities, despite most people believing they have happened.
The opposition's poor election results indeed could be a reflection of the popular will. While President Bozizé is neither popular nor able to bring the nation forward, the alternative could have appeared even worse for Central African voters.
Under the relatively democratic rule of President Patassé and PM Ziguélé, economic stability and the security situation was even worse than under the current authoritarian leader. Most Central Africans will remember the Patassé era as times of warfare, strikes and chaos, which inevitably led to a military coup.
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