THE outcome of the first free elections in 12 years in the Central African Republic was thrown into confusion when outgoing President Andre Kolingba changed the election rules.
President Kolingba, trailing three opponents in Aug. 22 elections, made television and radio broadcasts Saturday night saying he had changed the electoral code, stripping the Supreme Court of the power to publish final election results today. He annulled similar elections last October when it appeared he would lose.
Earlier Saturday, the National Electoral Commission announced former Prime Minister Ange-Felix Patasse had won the first round with 37 percent of the vote and would face David Dacko, with 21 percent, in a runoff Sept. 12. Abel Goumba, the only one of eight candidates who has consistently opposed the country's dictators, got nearly 21 percent. Kolingba was fourth with 11 percent. Minor candidates shared the rest.
France, the former colonial power in the Central African Republic, announced it was withdrawing all aid. The British Broadcasting Corporation reported that French soldiers who act as advisers to Kolingba and command his presidential guard were leaving. France has overseen the country's affairs for years.
Kolingba recently appeared more interested in winning immunity from prosecution on allegations he stole state funds than in winning the election. On Friday, he deployed troops of his feared Autonomous Armored Unit around the capital, Bangui.
The Central African Republic is all but bankrupt. Government workers have been on strike since April, schools have been closed for three years, and social services have collapsed. In Togo, dictator wins
Togo's military dictator, Gnassingbe Eyadema, won elections boycotted by the opposition with 96.49 percent of votes, officials said yesterday.
Opposition leaders accused the government of rigging the voters' list, inflating it with ghost names while hundreds of thousands of potential voters were prevented from registering. American observers led by former President Jimmy Carter and German government observers aborted their mission to monitor the vote, saying it could not be democratic in the absence of any real competition.