BANGUI - The top court in Central African Republic (CAR) rejected on Thursday the candidacy of former President Francois Bozize in a Dec. 27 election being held despite security concerns because of fighting between rival militias. Bozize planned to run against President Faustin-Archange Touadera. But the court said Bozize, 74, did not satisfy the "good morality" requirement for candidates because of an international warrant and U.N. sanctions against him for alleged assassinations, torture and other crimes. The court validated the candidacies of Touadera and 16 others, according to the order read by the court's president. Bozize, a former general who seized power in a 2003 coup and was overthrown in a 2013 rebellion, has denied the accusations against him. His party criticised the court's ruling in a statement, noting that he had not been convicted of any crimes, but called for "calm and restraint" from supporters. CAR has experienced an acute humanitarian crisis since Bozize's overthrow, which led to fighting between mainly Muslim and Christian militias. Vast swathes of the country remain under militia control. Touadera, who was prime minister under Bozize, was elected in 2016. He has worked to restore state institutions and signed an agreement with armed groups in 2019, but has failed to bring lasting peace. Bozize returned to CAR late last year and announced his presidential candidacy in July, saying an experienced leader to restore peace. Even though Touadera's government sought the warrant for Bozize's arrest, it has not sought to detain him since he returned to CAR. REUTERS
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