Bangui – Around 20 opposition parties and civil society groups banded together in the Central African Republic Friday to prevent President Faustin-Archange Touadera from seeking a third term in office.
One of the world’s poorest countries, the Central African Republic has been torn apart by civil wars for much of the past nine years.
“We have set up a republican bloc for the defence of the constitution,” said Crepin Mboli, who launched the initiative and heads the Homeland political party.
All new members of the coalition aim to “defend the March 30, 2016 constitution and to thwart any attempt at an autocratic presidency for life”.
Under the current constitution, the president can serve a maximum of two terms in office.
But the opposition says pro-Touadera lawmakers from parliament’s majority have suggested an amendment to allow the country’s president to stay on longer than just two terms.
The 65-year-old leader’s supporters are pressing for him to have it adopted via referendum.
Hundreds of people in April demonstrated in the capital, calling for the change.
But if the proposed amendment went to a vote in parliament, two-thirds of the chamber would have to approve it before any change to the constitution.
In 2013, a Muslim-dominated rebellion overthrew president Francois Bozize, sparking reprisals from predominantly Christian and animist self-defence militias.
The fighting peaked in 2018 and rebel groups controlled two-thirds of the country’s territory until early 2021.
Touadera was first elected president in 2016.
He was re-elected in December 2020 with 53.16 percent of the votes in highly controversial elections in which only one in three Centrafricans made it to the ballot box due to ongoing fighting.
Rebels tried to oust Touadera in late 2020 by launching an offensive on the capital Bangui, but the army — with alleged help from Russian mercenaries – managed to repel it.
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