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HomeInvestmentCentral Africa vote in referendum could extend Touadera's rule By Reuters

Central Africa vote in referendum could extend Touadera’s rule By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Central African Republic’s President Faustin-Archange Touadera attends a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Russia-Africa summit in Saint Petersburg, Russia, July 28, 2023. Artem Geodakyan/TASS Host Photo Ag

BANGUI (Reuters) – Central African Republic is voting on a constitutional referendum on Sunday which, if it passes, could remove a presidential term limit and allow President Faustin-Archange Touadera to run for a third term in 2025.

Touadera was first elected in 2016 for a five-year term and won reelection in 2020 for what was supposed to be his final term in office.

The new constitution would reset the clock, allowing him to run for a fresh seven-year mandate, and the number of terms he or another candidate could run for president would be unlimited.

Opposition parties and some civil society groups have called for a boycott of the referendum, saying it was designed to keep Touadera in power for life.

Turnout was meagre at a polling station in a northern suburb of the capital Bangui early on Sunday, with around two dozen voters in the queue, according to a Reuters reporter.

“I’m hoping that my friends will come out massively to vote. What I really want is stability for the country to progress,” said Laurent Ngombe, a teacher and one of the first people to vote.

The land-locked country, roughly the size of France and with a population of around 5.5 million, is rich in minerals including gold, diamond, and timber. It has witnessed waves instability, including coups and rebellions, since independence from France in 1960.

Touadera, 66, a mathematician, has struggled to quell rebel groups that have controlled pockets of the country since former President Francois Bozize was ousted by another rebellion in 2013.

Touadera turned to Russia for help in tackling the rebels in 2018. Since then, over 1,500 troops, including instructors and private military contractors from Russia’s Wagner group, have been deployed in the country alongside the national army.

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