BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — The strife-torn nation of Central African Republic has begun accepting candidate materials for a new transitional leader one week after former rebel leader Michel Djotodia stepped down as president, officials said Friday.
Candidates have until Saturday morning to submit their materials, including a birth certificate and certificate of nationality, said Blaise Fleury Otto of the national council now tasked with choosing the new leader. The selection is set to take place on Monday, he said.
Among the criteria: Candidates cannot take part if they have participated in a militia or an armed rebellion in the past 20 years. That caveat could eliminate many as the country has long been ravaged by coups and armed groups.
Djotodia's rebel Seleka coalition toppled the government of ex-President Francois Bozize in March 2013. Bozize himself rose to power after a rebellion a decade earlier.
Djotodia's administration was ultimately undermined by his mostly Muslim rebels' continued attacks on civilians, which spurred retaliatory attacks by Christian fighters that led to unprecedented violence last month. More than 1,000 people were killed in December alone, and the violence prompted nearly 1 million people to flee their homes.
Dozens of people have died since Djotodia stepped down one week ago, and there are fears that the selection of a new leader could spark another round of bloodshed.
On Thursday, the national council finalized rules stipulating that candidates could not be former members of the transitional government or leaders of political parties. They also cannot have been implicated in the mismanagement of a government office.
An official close to the transitional council, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, said the registration process got off to a slow start Friday, with only one candidate having submitted materials by early afternoon.
The new leader is supposed to guide the country to elections before the end of the year, though critics already say that timetable is not feasible because so many administrative buildings were looted and records destroyed during the past year.
Associated Press writer Krista Larson in Dakar, Senegal contributed to this report.