The Central African Republic votes on a proposed new Constitution to extend the presidential term
Approximately 1.9 million Central African voters are called upon to vote on Sunday for a referendum on constitutional reform. A text that could allow President Faustin Archange Touadéra to run for a third term and represent himself as many times as he wishes.
Centrafricans have begun to vote on Sunday morning for a proposal for a new constitution, which would allow President Faustin Archange Touadéra to run for a third term. The 66-year-old leader is accused by his opponents of wanting to remain a “president for life” of one of the poorest and devastated countries on the planet, which has experienced several coups d’état.
The polling stations will close at 4pm (5pm GMT) for approximately 1.9 million voters. Provisional results are expected to be published within eight days, and the Constitutional Court will proclaim the final results on August 27, according to the national electoral authority (ANE).
The opposition has called for a boycott. The proposal for a new constitution includes extending the presidential term from five to seven years and removing the term limit. There is no credible opinion poll that predicts the outcome of the vote, but the victory of the “yes” is little in doubt. The main opposition parties, civil society organizations, and rebel armed groups have called for a boycott.
They denounce, in particular, the lack of an updated voter register and the lack of independence of the institutions responsible for ensuring the regularity of the results. “The majority of the Central African population, struggling to survive in a difficult economic and security context, undoubtedly has other priorities than this referendum, which mobilizes little outside the circles of power,” says Charles Bouessel, an analyst for the International Crisis Group, an NGO that works for the prevention and resolution of armed conflicts.
Russian influence. Faustin Archange Touadéra announced that Russia and Rwanda, two states whose influence has significantly increased in recent years in the Central African Republic, will “support” the securing of the vote.
Hundreds of mercenaries from the Russian paramilitary company Wagner and Rwandan soldiers were deployed in December 2020 to save the Bangui regime from an offensive led by an alliance of the most powerful rebel groups, which they repelled in rural areas.