CAR: Electoral system

Updated November 2010

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Legal and institutional framework

Legal basis
  • Constitution of the Central African Republic 2004; amended 2010
  • Loi no 09.016 portant Code Electoral de la République Centrafricaine, 02 Octobre 2009
  • Loi no 91.004 du 1991 (political parties)
  • Décret 2009, 3 Octobre, portant création de la Commission Électorale Independante
Electoral system National Assembly: Directly elected by universal adult franchise from single member constituencies in two rounds[1]President: Directly elected through universal adult franchise; must obtain an absolute majority or a runoff is held with the best two candidates[2]
Electoral management bodies (EMBs) Constitutional Court (CC, Cour Constitutionnelle) tasked with ensuring the regularity of the elections and referenda, examining and proclaiming the results of polls and the adjudication of electoral disputes[3]National Independent Electoral Commission (CEI, Commission Electorale Indépendante) is responsible for the preparation, organisation and supervision of elections and referenda in partnership with the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation[4]Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation (Ministry, Ministère de l'Administration Territoriale et de la Décentralisation) is responsible for assisting the CEI in the preparation, organisation and supervision" of elections and referenda[5]
Independence of EMBs CC: Nine members (at least three women); two are appointed by the President, one by the Speaker of the National Assembly, two are judges elected by their peers, two are advocates elected by their peers and two are law professors elected by their peers[6]CEI: National Coordination is a body comprised of 31 members; the main body of 30 is constituted from listed entities whose representation is determined decree who elect a neutral chairperson[7]Ministry: Government ministry under the oversight of a political appointee
Mass media The Communication High Council (HCC, Haut Conseil de la Communication) regulates the media and access to state media during the electoral process; the media is poorly developed, dominated by the state, virtually restricted to the capital and standards of journalism are low[12]

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Election management

Election period and dates National Assembly and presidential elections every 5 years, non-concurrent; president has the power to dissolve National Assembly, in which case fresh elections must be conducted; elections and referenda called by decree of Council of Ministers on a report by the CEI, at least 60 days before election day[13]
Delimitation of constituencies Each sub-prefecture outside Bangui city and each district (arrondissement) of Bangui is and electoral constituency, but where high population levels dictate it sub-prefectures and districts may be sub divided to create constituencies; the delimitation for each election is laid out in a presidential decree (texte réglementaire14]
Voter registration and voters' rolls Voter registration is undertaken by the committes appointed by sub-prefect of district officials, registration is compulsory; voters roll are permanent but updated annually (December to March) and before each election; rolls are available for correction and objections in January and February[15]Voter presents idntification (identity card, passport, birth certificate, drivers licence etc), is registered, finger is marked with indelible ink and is issued with a voter's card necessary for voting[16]
Civic and voter education The organisation of voter and civic education campaigns is the responsibility of the CEI[17]
Candidate nomination Candidate nominations are registered by the CEI in collaboration with the Ministry 30 days before campaigning begins; a nomination file must include a dclaration of canditure with names, sex, birth details, parentage, profession and address, a birth certificate, a certificate of registration, a declaration of eligibility and a doctor's certificate[18]

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Table notes

[1] Constitution 2004, Articles, 49, 50. In the election of the members of the National Assembly of 2005 (and that for the election scheduled for January and March 2011), should no candidate obtain an absolute majority a second round was held, unless none of the other candidates obtained 10% of the vote or more, in which case the candidate with more than 10% was declared elected (Ordonnance no 04.016 2004, Article 194; Loi no 09.016 2009, Article 194). Candidates that obtained less than 10% of the votes were excluded from the second and the victor was determined by a simple majority, but where none of the candidates obtained at least 10% of the vote the three candidates with the most votes were advanced to the second round. The number of members varied from 85 (1993) to 109 (1998) and to 105 (2005) and is expected to remain at 105 in for the 2011 election.
[2] Constitution 2004, Article 24.
[3] Constitution 2004, Article 73.
[4] Loi no 09.016 2009, Article 10.
[5] Loi no 09.016 2009, Article 10, 21. In particular it is consulted on personnel recruitment and it is responsible for movable and immovable assets as well as the archives of the CEI.
[6] Constitution 2004, Article 74.
[7] Loi no 09.016 2009, Article 12. For the elections of 2011 (postponed from 2010) the CEI's National Coordination was drawn from the six groups the Inclusive Political Dialogue, five members of the opposition, five government representatives, five representatives of the presidential majority, five representatives of other parties, five representatives of civil society and representatives of five political-military movements; Pastor Joseph Binguimalé was elected as chairperson (EISA 2010, 4; HDPT Central African Republic 2009).
[12] Constitution 2004, Article 103; EISA 2010, 10. The EISA report revealed that journalists feared harassment and victimization, that opposition parties claimed that state media was monopolized by the incumbent party and president while the HCC said that airtime was available for all parties but many did not make use of it.
[13] Constitution 2004, Articles 24, 33, 50; Loi no 09.016 2009, Article 54, 137. The elections held in 2005 were concurrent, as are those planned for 2011, but if President dissolves the National Assembly prematurely a simultanious presidential election in not mandated, in which case the mandates of the two would be no longer concurrent. To dissolve the National Assembly in this way, the president must consultat the Council of Ministers, the Bureau of the National Assembly and of the President of the Constitutional Court, elections must be conducted within 45 to 90 days after the dissolution and the new Parliament may not be dissolved within 18 months of its election.
[14] Loi no 09.016 2009, Article 191.
[15] Loi no 09.016 2009, Article 23, 26, 29, 31-37. Parties may send representitives to observe registrtion oberations (Article 26).
[16] Loi no 09.016 2009, Article 27, 41.
[17] Loi no 09.016 2009, Article 10. An EISA pre-election assement (2010, 9,10) report a lack of voter education and voter awareness, which was attributed to lack of funds by CSOs and the CEI.
[18] Loi no 09.016 2009, Article 45-47. Art 45: As for the legislative election, the local committees and the committees of districts receive the candidates' files, carry out the checks of their reliability and transmit them to coordination. However, the CEI and the Administration reserve the right to check the reliability of the documents thus produced.
[19] Loi no 09.016 2009, Article.

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CONSTITUTION 2004, [www] [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 3 Oct 2010).

EISA 2010 Pre-election assessment mission (Mission d'évaluation préélectorale) [PDF documents], March.

HDPT CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC 2009, "Joseph Binguimalé at the head of the CIS", Info bulletin, 125 (Oct 12 - Oct 19 2009), [www] [opens new window] (accessed 28 October 2010).

LOI NO 09.016 portant Code Electoral de la République Centrafricaine, 02 Octobre 2009.