The leader of the Central African Republic (CAR), Francois Bozize, will face former Prime Minister Martin Ziguélé in a run-off election, an official of the country's electoral commission told IRIN on Friday after announcing the results of the first round of elections.
The chairman of the Mixed Independent Electoral Commission, or CEMI, Jean Willybiro-Sacko, said Bozize, who took 42.9 percent of the votes cast, and Ziguélé, with 23.5 percent, qualified for the second round of elections after they emerged first and second in a race that had attracted 11 candidates.
Bozize garnered 382,241 votes, while Ziguélé took 209,357 of the votes cast during the poll on 13 March.
They were followed by former President André Kolingba, with 145,945 votes; former Prime Minister Jean-Paul Ngoupandé of the Parti de l’Unité nationale, 45,182; Charles Massi of the Forum pour democratie et la modernité, 28,618; and former Vice-President Abel Goumba of the Front patriotique pour le progrès, with 22,297 votes.
The others were Henri Pouzère, a lawyer, who obtained 18,647 votes; Josué Binoua, a pastor, 13,559; former minister of defence Jean-Jacques Demafouth, 11,279; Auguste Boukanga of the Union pour la rennaissace et le developpement, 7,085 votes; and Olivier Gabirault of Alliance pour la democratie et le progrès, who came last with 5,835 votes.
"I thought there would be a titanic war between me and my senior, André Kolingba, but I will face those who misled the CAR's people," Bozize was quoted as saying on Friday on national radio. "If Ziguélé was honest, he would vote for me in the second round."
He described himself as the "good shepherd", in reference to a story from the Bible.
"I brought everybody home, those who were exiled in Uganda [meaning Kolingba], in France [Ngoupande and Ziguele], I restored them their rights," Bozize said.
"I am counting on them for the second round [of elections]," Bozize added.
Following the announcement of the election results, Jean-Michel Mandaba, the secretary-general of the Mouvement de liberation du peuple Centrafricain, which supported Ziguele's candidacy, said: "We observed the rules of the game and we arrived at the ranking that was necessary. We are going for the second round with the hope to win with an overwhelming majority."
The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to the CAR, Lamine Cisse, told IRIN on Thursday that the UN appreciated the efforts made by the country's transitional institutions as well as those by external partners who helped in the implementation of the electoral process.
"These results herald a return to constitutional order," Cisse said. "They represent victory of democracy and foundation of CAR's history for today and tomorrow."
Explaining why the UN Peace-building Support Office in CAR, or BONUCA, did not participate as election observers, Cisse said: "The UN created a structure called Comité des Partenaires Exterieurs pour le Suivi du Processus Electoral, or Committee of External Partners, for the follow-up of the electoral process. This structure, which I chair, brings together France, the EU [European Union], CEMAC [Communaute Economique et Monetaire de l’Afrique Centrale], Germany, the UN Agencies and the representative of the World Bank in CAR."
Members of this structure meet every 15 days to assess the electoral process. It has been in operation since April 2004.
"Being thus deeply involved in the electoral process, the UN judged it unnecessary to take part in the observation of the election," Cisse said.
"My heart is beating for peace consolidation in CAR, for return of constitutional order, sustainable development through good governance.
"This can be achieved if the aftermaths of the elections are appeased, that is, the winner must understand that to rule the country a government of national unity or [with a] large opening to others must be created," he added.
A CEMI official, who requested anonymity, said results of legislative elections would be announced on Saturday and that the second round of the presidential elections would be on 1 May.
The presidential run-off poll would end CAR's transitional government that Bozize installed after seizing power on 15 March 2003 from former President Ange-Felix Patasse who was barred from contesting the current presidential elections.