CAR opens election campaign

2011-01-10 14:13

Bangui - Posters and banners went up in the Central African Republic on Monday as campaigning kicked off for January 23 presidential and legislative elections.

"We ask all candidates to show respect during the campaign, and adopt behaviour of respect and restraint," Independent Election Commission president Joseph Binguimale said announcing the start of campaigning.

In the capital Bangui posters went up that described President Francois Bozize as "the builder" and "the unifier". He is standing for a second term after winning elections in 2005 and taking power in a coup two years earlier.

Followers of another key candidate, 2001-2003 prime minister Martin Ziguele, hung banners that read "United, we will overcome".

The other main candidates are the president toppled in Bozize's coup, Ange-Felix Patasse (1993-2003), and former defence minister and ex-rebel army chief Jean-Jacques Demafouth.

Campaigning ends on January 21, two days before the poll. A second round of voting is due on March 20. The election was first fixed for April 2010 but postponed twice.

The election is seen as a key step to bringing stability to the desperately poor country, which has since 2008 been working on a peace process drawing in ex-rebels to end years of instability and insecurity.