Bozize too sick to lead, says opposition

2011-08-26 11:03

Bangui - The president of the Central African Republic suffers from a chronic illness and cannot continue leading the country, a top opposition leader said in court petition seen by AFP Thursday.

Joseph Bendounga, who heads the opposition MDREC party, on August 22 filed a petition asking the constitutional court to declare President Francois Bozize unfit to remain in office.

"Because of his long and incurable illness, [Bozize] is plagued by a physical and mental incapacity that is highly prejudicial to the exercise of his high office," Bendounga's petition says.

The petition explains that Bozize, who took power in a 2003 coup, suffers from recurring migraines.

"Given the serious issues the Central African Republic finds itself facing, the country cannot be led by a head of state that does not possess all his physical and mental capacities," the petition says.

Bendounga further claimed that Bozize's health has been deteriorating for more than a year and that the president snuck out of the country to seek medical care in China, which did not improve his condition.

Presidential spokesperson Zama Javon Papa dismissed the claims as "lies" and insisted Bozize "enjoys perfect health", in a statement broadcast on Thursday on national radio.

Bendounga was a close ally of former president Ange-Felix Patasse, who Bozize ousted in 2003.