Deposed former Central African Republic ruler Bozize barred from elections

BANGUI (Reuters) - Central African Republic’s (CAR) former president Francois Bozize, forced into exile two years ago, was not on the list of eligible candidates for this month’s elections, having said in August that he would return to stand.

Central Africa's former president Francois Bozize looks on during a news conference at the presidential palace in Bangui, January 8, 2013. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

The polls were set for Oct. 18 but postponed until Dec. 27 after violence in the capital Bangui that has killed about 100 people since September. One person was killed on the outskirts of a Muslim enclave shortly after the Pope’s visit last month.

CAR was mired in violence after Bozize fled to Cameroon in 2013 when Seleka fighters seized power in the majority-Christian nation, sparking reprisals by “anti-balaka” Christian militias loyal to Bozize. He was accused of stoking the attacks.

The government that succeeded him issued an international arrest warrant against him in 2013 for crimes against humanity and incitement to genocide during his ten years in power. He also faces U.N. travel and banking sanctions.

The president of the constitutional court, Zacharie Ndoumba, included Bozize on the list of rejected candidates but state media said he had not registered.

A spokesman for Bozize’s Kwa Na Kwa party said the court had told them Bozize had not furnished proof of enrollment for the electoral list.

“We deplore the deleterious climate in which the constitutional court has worked,” party spokesman, Christian Guenebem, said. “This decision is the result of internal and external pressure.”

Of 42 submissions validated by the constitutional court, thirty candidates were approved to stand, most as independents.

Human Rights Watch researcher, Lewis Mudge, said: “(This saga) shouldn’t end with him being excluded from the list.”

“It should end with an investigation done for crimes he may have committed ... and groups he may have supported.”

Reporting by Crispin Dembassa-Kette; Additional reporting by Sebastien Lamba in Bangui; Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by Louise Ireland