Military Dictator, Losing Election, Attempts Constitutional Coup
BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) _ Dictator Andre Kolingba late Saturday tried to block the results of an election in which he was defeated.
Kolingba annulled similar elections last October when it appeared he would be trounced. The latest vote, held Aug. 22, was the country’s first free election in 12 years.
Earlier Saturday, the National Electoral Commission announced former Prime Minister Ange-Felix Patasse won the first round with 37 percent of the vote and would face David Dacko, with 21 percent, in a runoff Sept. 12. Abel Goumba, the only one of eight candidates who has consistently opposed the country’s dictators, got nearly 21 percent, and Kolingba was fourth with 11 percent. Minor candidates shared the rest.
The results had to be confirmed by the Supreme Court. Kolingba imposed two military decrees that effectively annulled the Supreme Court’s powers to announce the election results by Monday. The court’s role in announcing the results is part of a democratic electoral code approved by voters last year.
Kolingba’s move was broadcast on government-controlled radio.
France, the former colonial power in the Central African Republic, announced it was withdrawing all aid as a result. France has overseen the country’s affairs for years.
The British Broadcasting Corporation’s radio correspondent in the country reported that French soldiers who act as advisers to Kolingba and commmand his presidential guard were packing their bags.
The measures were France’s first steps to force Kolingba to accept the results, French diplomats in Bangui said.
Kolingba recently appeared more interested in winning immunity from prosecution on allegations he stole state funds than in winning the election.
But on Friday, he deployed troops of his feared Autonomous Armored Unit at strategic points around Bangui, including the airport and radio station.
His country is bankrupt. Government workers have been on strike since April, schools have been closed for three years and social services have collapsed.