Oct 20, 2004

Batwa to register in Central African Republic Election

Countrywide registration of voters began on Saturday in the Central African Republic
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Countrywide registration of voters began on Saturday in the Central African Republic with the country's Independent Mixed Electoral Commission, or CEMI, setting up around 5,411 electoral posts nationwide.

The registration process is "innovative", Commission Chairman Jean Wilibiro-Sacko told IRIN on Monday. People will be registered as soon as they have proven their age and identity and then immediately receive a voter card.

Wilibiro-Sacko said the commission had made sure that the minority Batwa people, sometimes known as pygmies, would be able to register. Also, nationals living abroad, particularly in the Republic of Congo, Chad, Cameroon, Gabon and France, would be able to register.

"Electoral posts have been installed there," he said.

The registration process is due to end on Sunday and "those who did not register would not be able to vote". He also said many citizens might not understand the significance of registering, but the commission was "making efforts to bridge the gap".
The first election in November is to be a referendum for the new constitution. It will be followed by combined legislative and presidential elections in January 2005, after which, the transitional period is set to end.

The current military government of Gen. Francois Bozize came to power following a coup of 15 March 2003 that ousted former President Ange-Felix Patasse.

The armed forces are responsible for transporting electoral materials to the provinces.

The government approved the electoral commission's US $10.8-million budget in August 2004. The government's contribution is $2 million and the EU has made -3 million ($3.7 million) available.

"We are using the funds, pending contributions from the USA and other donors," Wilibiro-Sacko said.

Source: All Africa