Ahead of voting on July 30, the Central African Republic is entering its last week of campaigning for a referendum on a new draft constitution.
The draft constitution, the creation of which was ordered by President Faustin-Archange Touadéra in 2022, proposes removing the two-term limit on the presidency. It also would see a ban on dual citizens running for the top office.
The opposition has called on voters to vote against the draft constitution or abstain.
Yet, the head of the opposition, Anicet Georges Dologuélé, believes the vote is already set in favour of the draft.
Dologuélé points to the lack of an electoral register, as well as the means of voting by any document in the absence of a voter’s card. The opposition also believes that the electoral bodies, in particular the National Elections Authority and the Constitutional Court, are in the hands of the state.
The opposition leader believes that voting ‘no’ will not change the referendum result, saying that the campaign has been too short.
Campaigning has been punctuated by protests held by critics of Touadéra and the oppositIon. Hundreds of people defied a protest ban on July 14 and rallied in the capital Bangui, under heavy escort from CAR security forces and armoured vehicles belonging to United Nations peacekeeping mission MINUSCA.
Earlier, supports of the president held their own rally in Bangui on May 31, where Touadéra addressed the crowd, saying, “As far as I’m concerned, I think that the new constitution we’re going to introduce will help our country, the Central African Republic, to develop. That’s why I’m asking you all, when the time is right, to do as we say. Vote so that we can move the country forward.”
The campaign has reinforced societal divisions in a country already hard hit by a years-long civil war.