CAR opposition chief enters poll race
Bangui - The opposition leader in Central African Republic, a resource-rich country sandwiched between Sudan and Congo, entered the running for January's presidential election on Monday after missing an initial deadline to register.
Authorities reopened the registration period after Martin Ziguele, head of the MLPC opposition grouping, said an earlier November 08 deadline was invalid. The election commission confirmed that Ziguele was now among six candidates, including incumbent President Francois Bozize.
The January 23 election has been delayed three times because of problems over funding and rebel disarmament, leaving Bozize in power beyond his initial mandate which ended in June. Former president Ange Felix Patasse is also running.
Longstanding instability in landlocked CAR, which is roughly the size of France, has so far discouraged major investment in its gold, uranium and diamond deposits.
Aside from conflict involving home-grown rebels, the country has been caught up in the conflict between neighbours Chad and Sudan, whose respective rebels have taken advantage of CAR's vast ungoverned north.