World News

Central African Republic delays election again

BANGUI (Reuters) - Central African Republic has delayed this year’s presidential and legislative elections for the second time, its electoral commission said Thursday.

Voting had initially been scheduled for April 25, but less than a month before that date they were postponed until May 16 as a result of opposition claims that there was not enough time to organize a full, free and fair election.

No new date has yet been set, meaning that President Francois Bozize may still be head of state after the five-year mandate he won in a 2005 vote expires on June 11.

“(The electoral commission) cannot technically organize the elections within the timetable,” spokesman Rigobert Vondo said.

The landlocked country holds deposits of gold, uranium and diamonds, but has been beset by internal rebellions that have discouraged large-scale investment.

“It may be that we pass June 11, the date of the constitutional deadline,” Bozize said. “We will, following the constitution, ask the national assembly to suggest a way we can avoid anarchy in the country.”

Bozize, who came to power in a 2003 coup, has held talks with rebels and unarmed challengers, but many insurgent groups continue to operate in the north, close to the border with Chad.

Opposition parties say they fear the vote will be rigged.

Reporting by Paul-Marin Ngoupana; Writing by Daniel Magnowski; Editing by Mark Heinrich