Bangui - Central African Republic's exiled former president Francois Bozize, who is wanted for helping foment deadly unrest, was barred on Tuesday from running for election late this month.
The presidential and parliamentary polls due December 27 are expected to signal CAR's return to normalcy after two years of bloody sectarian violence that erupted between Christian and Muslim fighters after Bozize's March 2013 ouster.
A total of 30 candidates were cleared to run in the first round of the presidential vote by the transitional regime's Constitutional Court, which rejected 15 applications, including Bozize's.
Failing an outright win, a second round is scheduled for January 16. Almost two million people have registered to vote for a new head of state and 141 parliamentarians.
Interim President Catherine Samba Panza is not eligible under the rules of the transition regime.
The elections have been postponed several times already and organising the ballot remains highly problematic as entire parts of the country remain under the control of Muslim rebels opposed to the vote.
Next Sunday will see a test run for the country in a referendum on adopting a new constitution.
The current crisis began when mainly Muslim Seleka rebels overthrew Bozize in 2013 before being chased from office in turn by foreign troops early last year.
The 69-year-old, who is living in exile in an unknown African location, faces arrest at home and is the target of UN sanctions for supporting Christian "anti-balaka" militias who like Seleka rebels attacked civilians in tit-for-tat fighting devastating one of Africa's poorest and most unstable nations.
Around one in 10 people remain displaced in the country where more than 12 000 UN troops have been deployed to keep the peace.
Seleka forces have split into different factions that currently control parts of the north and the east.