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Vol 40 No 16

Published 6th August 1999

Central African Republic

Too close to call

Incumbent President Patassé is favourite to win the elections as the UN prepares to leave

Whoever wins the presidential election starting on 29 August faces a huge task in keeping order. Incumbent President Ange-Félix Patassé is the favourite, though probably not in the first round. The winner will be helped for a time by the Mission des Nations Unies en République Centrafricaine (Minurca) which is to supervise the poll and is already overseeing the restructuring of the army. So far, election preparations - ten candidates have registered - are going better than the military reforms. Minurca cannot afford to fail on either count. It is one of the United Nations' first attempts at 'preventive peace-keeping'; it has also been run by Europe (particularly France), without United States' cash or logistics. It will face its toughest test this month: the danger is that political rivals will resort to violence again if they don't like the election result, especially if they smell fraud.

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