BANGUI, CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (AFP) – Some 300 people demonstrated on Saturday in the Central African Republic’s (CAR) capital against changing the constitution, after the president ordered a rewrite of the basic law.
Opposition and civil society called the protest a day after President Faustin Archange Touadera ordered the creation of a committee to rewrite the constitution, sparking fears he was seeking a third term in office.
The 65-year-old was first elected in 2016, then re-elected in a highly controversial poll in 2020, but the constitution does not allow him to run for a third term.
“No to manipulation”, “No to dictatorship”, read banners as protesters joined a rally called by the 20-party Republican Bloc coalition grouping opposition forces and civil society organisations.
“The objective of this manoeuvre is to unlock the limit for two presidential mandates in order to be president for life,” former prime minister Martin Ziguele, now an opposition lawmaker, told the gathering.
“We are in the process of coming to know a big dictatorship in our country,” said Roland Sylvestre Dawa of the opposition Democratic Bloc for the Reconstruction of Central Africa (BDRC).
CAR Authorities have in recent months organised demonstrations in favour of a revamped constitution, with more than 1,000 people turning out on August 6.
Less than a week later, President Touadera said that “more and more voices are being raised to demand a modification of the constitution”.
Touadera’s United Hearts Movement (MCU) in March had attempted to scrap the two-presidential term limit during a “republican dialogue” boycotted by the bulk of the opposition.
But the party rowed back on the idea in the face of public protest and criticism from the international community.
Touadera won a second term in 2020 with a 53.16-per-cent vote share in a controversial poll amid widespread insecurity in the CAR, which has been battling a decade-long civil war.