First public hearing of the Birao court after several years of interruption

5 Nov 2020

First public hearing of the Birao court after several years of interruption

Lieutenant Oscar SIITA (Zambian Battalion)
On 26 October, 2020, Birao (capital of Vakaga, located about 1,300 km from Bangui) attended the first public session of his Court after several years without a hearing, to rule on alleged irregularities reported by an elected deputy from the locality.

The president of the tribunal, Narcisse Wefio, the Sous-Prefet of Vakaga, Zakaria Ramadan, the Head of the regional office of MINUSCA, Bessan Vikou, the Commander of the Zambian contingent of the Mission, Lieutenant-Colonel Paul Sapezo, and Central African defense and security forces attended this historic session.

The first case was related to the outgoing deputy of the municipality of Ridina, Valentine Goumba, who petitioned the National Election Authority (ANE) to denounce the irregularities committed during the recent mapping, delimitation and registration of voters as part of the ongoing electoral process. He also denounced the drop in the number of registered voters in Am-Dafock, due to the failure to take into account two villages (Dongoro and Guila located about 75 km from Birao) emptied of their inhabitants following the clashes. The number of polling stations would thus decrease by ten (10) compared to 2015.

At the end of the deliberations, the magistrate Benjamin Batta, who chaired the session, declared insufficient the evidence provided by the prosecution, since the registration agents of the ANE actually went to the field and did not carry out any registration due to desertion related to the security situation in Am-Dafock. He indicated that the allegation according to which the ANE agents only stayed seven days was unfounded, because the deserted village, the agents could not stay there for 21 days. The court therefore concluded that there was no professional misconduct or irregularities in the way the voter registration was carried out.