Country Report Central African Republic October 1998 Main report

Political scene: Electoral commission is sworn in

The independent electoral commission, the Commission electorale mixte independante (CEMI), was formally established on June 19th, despite opposition protests over the president's choice of chairman, Michel Adama- Tamboux (3rd quarter 1998). The row was finally settled when the UN special representative, Oluyemi Adeniji, who is the political head of the Minurca peacekeeping mission, made it clear that international donors might refuse to finance the organisation of this year's legislative polls if the commission was not in place. Given the condition of state finances, the absence of outside aid would constitute a serious problem, with the election expected to cost CFAfr1.8bn ($3.2m). The CEMI has a nine-member executive, with two vice-chairmen, one from the pro-Patasse alliance and one from the G11 opposition alliance. It also has a 42-member national "co-ordination" team, with representatives of the 34 legally registered parties and a range of civil society groups, notably the trade unions, religious denominations and human rights organisations, which have played a prominent political role in the CAR since the start of moves to end one- party rule in the early 1990s. The commission also has offshoots in the 16 provinces and the 8 districts of Bangui. Its first task was to oversee the updating of the electoral roll -- there were only 885,000 registered voters in 1993 -- and to decide where polling stations should be located. The CEMI also had to reach a final decision on the timing of the vote (see below).

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