FILE PHOTO: Central African Republic President Faustin Archange Touadera addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City, New York, US, September 25, 2019. (Photo: Reuters)
Central African Republic's president said on Saturday he would stand for a second term in the December election, pressing on with preparations for a vote that the opposition wants delayed due to concerns over voter registrations.
The main opposition coalition is questioning the credibility of the election, after instability in the region and the coronavirus pandemic disrupted voter rolls and required parliament to tweak the electoral calendar.
Touadera made his candidacy announcement to a crowd of 6,000 supporters in a sports hall in the capital Bangui that had been repainted for the occasion in the blue and white colours of his party.
"The Central African people will no longer go backwards. The old political recipes which have led the country into misfortune are no longer accepted," he said.
One challenger is deposed former president Francois Bozize, who was overthrown in a 2013 rebellion by a coalition of mainly Muslim rebels from the north, plunging the majority Christian nation into a violent civil war.
Touadera, who was prime minister under Bozize, has served as president since 2016. His first term has seen the precarious restoration of state institutions and the signing of a controversial agreement with armed groups in 2019, which has failed to bring lasting peace.
The violence has caused one of the world's worst humanitarian crises, displacing over 600,000 people within the country while a further 600,000 live as refugees in neighbouring Cameroon, Chad, and elsewhere, according to U.N. figures.