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article imageLeading candidates in C. Africa Republic's key presidential vote

By Christian Panika (AFP)     Dec 28, 2015 in Politics

Thirty candidates are vying for the presidency in the notoriously volatile Central African Republic, including the son of onetime self-proclaimed emperor, Jean-Bedel Bokassa, who modelled his extravagant coronation on Napoleon's.

But Bokassa and two other sons of former leaders are not among the front-runners in Wednesday's parliamentary and presidential polls, aimed at ending more than two years of sectarian violence that erupted after a mainly Muslim rebellion overthrew longtime Christian leader Francois Bozize in 2013.

Bozize and Michel Djotodia, who toppled him, have been barred from the election in the mineral-rich but poverty-stricken country, wracked by violence, coups and dictatorships since it gained independence from France in 1960.

- THE FAVOURITES -

Factfile on the Central African Republic  where voters are set to go to the polls in elections on We...
Factfile on the Central African Republic, where voters are set to go to the polls in elections on Wednesday
Iris Royer de Vericourt, AFP

-- Anicet Georges Dologuele

Widely known as "Mr Clean", Dologuele, 58, worked at the Bank of Central African States serving six central African countries that form a monetary bloc before being named prime minister, a job he held from 1998 to 2001.

Dologuele's term was marked by attempts to clean up murky public finances and his electoral campaign consequently boasts his peaceful past and record as premier.

"At age 58, I have never held a weapon," he said recently.

"I am still happy to recall that between 1996 until now, the only time there were no military or political crises in the country was during my time in office," he also said.

Central African Republic presidential candidate Martin Ziguele speaks during a campaign rally in the...
Central African Republic presidential candidate Martin Ziguele speaks during a campaign rally in the Muslim district of PK5 in the capital Bangui on December 25, 2015 ahead of the country's presidential election
Issouf Sanogo, AFP

Dologuele headed the Development Bank of Central African States from 2001 until 2010 and then set up the Central African Union for Renewal party. The first-time presidential runner has the backing of the party of ousted president Bozize who has been barred from contesting.

-- Martin Ziguele

"Iron man" Ziguele, 58, is also a former prime minister who lived and worked in nearby Togo for decades before taking up a top job at the taxation department in his country.

Fluent in French, Spanish and English, Ziguele was named premier in 2001 and started cleaning up the corrupt customs service. He trained his guns on then chief of staff Francois Bozize for corruption. Bozize later took power in a coup and Ziguele remained a fierce opponent during Bozize's time in power.

French soldiers from the Sangaris operation patrol in the PK5 Muslim district in Bangui on December ...
French soldiers from the Sangaris operation patrol in the PK5 Muslim district in Bangui on December 23, 2015 as supporters of presidential candidate Karim Meckassoua hold posters of him
Issouf Sanogo, AFP

Ziguele is running as a presidential candidate for a third time and is thought to be favoured by former colonial ruler France.

-- Abdoul Karim Meckassoua

A former minister under Bozize, the 62-year-old is considered to be one of the ousted ruler's close allies.

Meckassoua is admired for being a competent and efficient administrator and is known for his diplomatic skills.

He enjoys great support among Muslims and was instrumental in effecting a rapprochement between former president Felix-Ange Patasse and Bozize, the man who toppled him and took power.

The former lawmaker is contesting the election as an independent candidate from a constituency in the capital Bangui which includes the flashpoint Muslim-majority PK-5 district.

A Central African Republic army recruit poses next to a statue of the country's former self-pro...
A Central African Republic army recruit poses next to a statue of the country's former self-proclaimed emperor Jean-Bedel Bokassa at the site of Bokassa's former palace in Berengo, 50 kms south of the capital Bangui, on May 22, 2015
Patrick Fort, AFP/File

- THE 'SONS' -

- Jean-Serge Bokassa:

A son of self-proclaimed emperor Bokassa, the 43-year-old was enrolled in a Swiss boarding school when his father was toppled in 1979.

A first-time candidate, Bokassa says he believes he was destined to have a political career.

- Eugene Sylvain Ngakoutou Patasse:

The 46-year-old son of ousted president Ange-Felix Patasse, who ruled from 1993 to 2003, Patasse works in the diamond industry. He has no political experience and is running as an independent.

Supporters of Central African Republic presidential candidate Agustin Agou attend a campaign rally i...
Supporters of Central African Republic presidential candidate Agustin Agou attend a campaign rally in Bangui on December 25, 2015
Issouf Sanogo, AFP

- Desire Nzanga Bilal Kolingba:

The eldest son of former president Andre Kolingba (1981 to 1993), the 59-year-old studied economics in Canada and the United States and held various portfolios as a minister in Bozize's government.

Kolingba, who has converted to Islam, is running for president for the first time.

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