Opposition parties leave CAR elections body

Bangui - Opposition parties in the Central African Republic on Friday announced that they were quitting the electoral process and demanded the resignation of the head of the Independent Electoral Commission.

The opposition "suspends its participation" in the commission and "demands the immediate resignation of the head of the CEI", said Jean-Jacques Demafouth, the head of a former rebel movement.

The commission chief, Joseph Binguimale, was accused of "breaching his oath, a total absence of independence, scheming with the aim of promoting massive fraud, dubious morality and notorious incompetence", Demafouth said.

The walkout involved 15 of the 30 members of the commission, which was set up in August to organise and supervise elections at dates that have yet to be announced. All those to quit, including former rebels as well as the political opposition, demanded Binguimale's resignation.

Nicolas Tiangaye, the chairman of the Republican Convention for Social Progress (CRPS), said that Binguimale "is far from bringing together all the qualities necessary to carry out the electoral process in peace and national harmony".

"He openly displays his allegiance to President Francois Bozize," said Tiangaye.

He accused Binguimale of "trampling on the electoral code" by setting up local committees in the name of Kwa Na Nwa (KNN), the presidential party, at the expense of other parties that took part at the end of 2008 in a forum for peace with the government, the opposition, rebels and civil society.

Demafouth demanded the dissolution of these local committees, as well as an audit of electoral commission finances.

The commission's spokesman, Rigobert Vondo, said he regretted the decision of the opposition and former rebels, but played down its impact.

"We take note of the opposition's decision. But the CEI will continue to make progress on the electoral process with those who are left," said Vondo, who is one of the representatives of the presidential majority.

He also wanted the immediate implementation of a decision taken during the 2008 national dialogue, namely to set up a permanent framework for consultation to prevent further political crises. - Sapa-AFP

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