Central African Republic Constitution Changes Approved Amid Controversy.
The Central African Republic witnessed an overwhelming majority approving changes to the constitution, with provisional results showing over 95% of the vote, as announced by the committee overseeing the referendum.
However, opposition parties and civil society groups chose to boycott the vote, expressing concerns that the amended law was crafted to enable President Faustin-Archange Touadéra to remain in power indefinitely. Transparency was questioned, and critics argued that there was insufficient time for meaningful debate on the proposed provisions.
Despite nearly two million people registering to vote, turnout was estimated to be low according to observers.
The proposed constitutional amendments abolish the presidential two-term limit and extend the term in office from five to seven years. Additionally, politicians with dual citizenship are barred from running for the presidency.
Other changes include the creation of a vice-presidential office, to be appointed by the president, and the scrapping of the senate, transforming parliament into a single chamber.
Furthermore, the number of supreme court judges has increased from nine to 11, and both the president and the national assembly can now select three judges each, as opposed to just one each in the past.
President Touadéra and his United Hearts Party maintain that they are representing the will of the people, while the opposition has labeled the developments as a “constitutional coup.”
The president has been grappling with rebel groups that have held control over significant parts of the country since he assumed power in 2016, a result of another rebellion in 2013 that ousted former President François Bozizé.
In 2018, President Touadéra sought assistance from Russia to address the rebel situation, and ahead of the recent vote, there were sightings of dozens of fighters from Russia’s Wagner mercenary group arriving in the country. The situation remains a matter of concern for many as the nation navigates through the changes and their implications.