President Faustin Archange Touadéra of the Central African Republic called for a constitutional referendum Tuesday that would allow him to seek a third term in office. This call was quickly followed by the Central African Republic’s Electoral Body decreeing that a vote on the proposed changes to the constitution would occur on July 30. The current constitution restricts the presidency to two, five-year terms.
In a statement, Touadéra said:
Must I remind you that since the Republican Dialogue, a large majority of the population and the living forces of the nation have expressed themselves through petitions, memoranda, marches organized throughout the national territory, inviting me to endow the Central African Republic with a new Constitution that reflects the deep aspirations of the people for peace, security, stability, effective sovereignty, growth and emergence of the country…To those who would have reason to fear the advent of a new Constitution, I would like to reassure them, if it was still necessary, that the organization of a constitutional referendum, under the conditions required by the Constitution, could not be validly analyzed as a will of the President of the Republic to prevent political alternation but a guarantee of democracy and the rule of law.
A spokesman for Touadéra told Agence France Presse (AFP), “There won’t be a third term, but the count will be set back to zero, so anyone can seek a new term, including Touadera if he wants.”
Nicolas Tiangaye, the controversial former prime minister of the Central African Republic and current opposition party leader, condemned the referendum, telling AFP, “This new constitution will be written so that Touadéra remains president for life.”
Touadéra faced criticism in 2022 for firing the President of the Constitutional Court Danièle Darlan, who ruled against Touadéra’s previous attempt to rewrite the constitution by commission.