Run-off polls set for 8 May

The second round of presidential and parliamentary elections in the Central African Republic (CAR) has been postponed from 1 to 8 May, an official told IRIN on Thursday.

Citing a presidential decree, Alain-Georges Ngatoua, the spokesman of CAR leader Francois Bozizé, said the postponement was to avoid interference with the marking Labour Day on 1 May.

Bozizé signed the decree on Wednesday.

Ngatoua said campaigns for the presidential and legislative polls would begin on 23 April and end on 6 May.

The postponement comes as negotiations continue between presidential candidates Bozizé and Martin Ziguélé, and other political parties for a possible conclusion of alliances.

A supporter of the coalition Convergence Kwa na Kwa, who requested anonymity, said three parties - the Forum democratique pour la modernite, the Rassemblement democratique Centrafricain and the Parti de l'unite nationale were likely to back Bozizé.

After the first round of elections on 13 March, Bozizé and Ziguélé, both independent candidates, supported by the Convergence National Kwa Na Kwa and by the Mouvement de Liberation du Peuple Centrafricain, respectively, qualified for the run-off poll. Bozizé obtained 42.97 percent of the votes cast while and Ziguélé had 23.53 percent.

The run-off would be the last stage of an electoral process to re-establish constitutional order in the CAR, following Bozize's coup on 15 March 2003 in which he ousted former President Ange-Felix Patassé.