It is unlikely that this will change anything in the plans of Faustin-Archange Touadéra, but it is all the same a setback for the Central African head of state: the eight judges of the Constitutional Court announced, on September 23 , that they invalidated any procedure aimed at modifying the fundamental law and that this decision was not subject to any appeal.
The highest court in the country, chaired by Danièle Darlan, had been seized by part of the opposition united in the Republican Bloc for the Defense of the Constitution (BRDC), after a decree signed by the hand of Touadéra and his prime minister, Félix Moloua, had ordered at the end of August the creation of a “drafting committee for the draft Constitution”.
Central African Republic: who can still prevent a new mandate for Faustin-Archange Touadéra?
Since then, tension had risen in Bangui. In mid-September, the Central African president’s opponents denounced the attacks and threats against the Constitutional Court. On September 8 and 9, several hundred demonstrators had even gathered in front of its headquarters, placed under the protection of the Minusca blue helmets. They demanded in particular the departure of Danièle Darlan, in office since 2017.
Russian and Rwandan allies
As it stands, the Constitution prohibits the president, first elected in 2016 and re-elected in 2020 after a disputed ballot, from running for a third term. But, claiming to have to respond “to the voices [qui] rise up to demand a modification of the Constitution”, Faustin-Archange Touadéra has been making little mystery of his intentions for several months. He knows he can count on the divisions of the opposition, as much as on the weariness of the international community and the support of his Russian and Rwandan allies.
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In March, the United Hearts Movement (MCU, in power) already tried, during a “republican dialogue” excluding the rebellion and boycotted by most of the opposition, to introduce an amendment breaking the lock of two warrants. In vain. However, this did not prevent the party from continuing to work to silence internal dissension, with MP Brice Kévin Kakpayen presenting a proposal to amend the Constitution a few weeks later to the representatives of the majority parliamentary groups – this must allow the Head of State to run again in 2025. For months, the authorities have also been organizing demonstrations in favor of a modification of the Constitution.
A referendum as plan B
Does the Court’s decision sound the death knell for the ambitions of Faustin-Archange Touadéra? Probably not. Even before the judges rendered their decision, the first vice-president of the National Assembly, Évariste Ngamana, had hinted that no institution could “obstruct the will of the people”. According to our information, Touadéra himself expected a rebuff from Danièle Darlan. He has therefore devised a plan B, which involves a referendum which could be organized at the same time as the next local elections. This option, if adopted, will have the merit of allowing the Head of State to play the card of popular legitimacy to circumvent the Constitutional Court.
At the end of August, the supreme magistrates had already opposed the president by rejecting some of the provisions of his project of cryptocurrency.