Twenty out of the 30 candidates vying to be president of Central African Republic have demanded the election be scrapped after what they said was a tainted first round of voting. In a joint statement on Monday, the dissenters cited what they described as irregularities and intimidation in balloting on 30 December, partial results of which have been published. They said they refused to be “complicit in this electoral masquerade” and called for the whole process to be “purely and simply stopped”. They invited all players to get around the negotiating table “to draw up ways of safeguarding the nation”. Signatories include heavyweight candidate Karim Meckassoua , a former foreign minister from the minority Muslim community, who had been a pre-election frontrunner.
Independent candidate Faustin-Archange Touad éra, a former prime minister, has taken a commanding lead in the presidential race, garnering more than 23% of the vote with a quarter of the ballots counted, electoral officials said on Sunday. The former maths professor had been considered an outsider.
Anicet-Georges Dologuélé , also a former prime minister, was in second place with Desire Kolingba, son of a former president, in third.
A likely second round is set for 31 January. The election is seen as vital to restoring stability in the former French colony after years of unrest.