Central African Republic Militia Backs Ex-Premier in Vote

Updated on
  • Anti-balaka group, ex-president's party both make endorsement
  • Weekend's elections a step toward restoring state authority

One of Central African Republic’s most powerful militias has endorsed former Prime Minister Anicet Georges Dologuele’s bid for the presidency in the diamond-rich country’s elections this weekend.

Patrice Edouard Ngaissona, national coordinator of the mainly Christian armed group that’s known as the anti-balaka, urged its members and supporters to vote for Dologuele, who served as premier from 1999 to 2001. “It is only he who can restore confidence between the daughters and sons of our country,” Ngaissona said Wednesday at a rally in the capital, Bangui.

The Kwa Na Kwa party, affiliated to ex-president Francois Bozize, also asked members to back Dologuele, according to its general secretary, Bertin Bea. The nation’s Constitutional Court earlier this month rejected Bozize and Ngaissona’s applications to run for the presidency.

The 2013 ouster of Bozize by mainly Muslim rebels was marked by widespread killings of civilians, prompting non-Muslims to set up armed groups. Lawlessness has gripped the landlocked nation of 4.7 million people ever since, with the presidential and legislative vote meant to establish an elected government able to restore state authority and persuade militias to disarm.

The International Criminal Court on Wednesday said it will record any violence or threats used to obstruct people from voting. The tribunal has been investigating atrocities in the country since September 2014.

“The process of gathering evidence against any person who incites or engages in acts of mass violence before, during and after the elections is continuing,” ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in an e-mailed statement from The Hague.

(Updates with International Criminal Court comments in penultimate paragraph.)
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